Reading the story of Cinderella or at least just watching the animated film by Disney, it is easy to overlook what was really going on what with everything else that was happening. In the original animated film, you see Cinderella performing tasks for her stepmother and sister while singing as she did so. You witnessed Cinderella meeting her fairy godmother and getting the most gorgeous gown to go to the ball where she met her prince charming. In the end, she got her happily ever after and married the prince and with all that going on, it is easy to miss such things like:
- Cinderella lived in a dingy attic removed from the more luxurious accommodations where her stepsisters and stepmother lived.
- She made friends with animals in her attic and the barn instead of talking to others her own age or just people in general.
- She served her stepmother and stepsisters like an indentured servant.
- Her stepmother and stepsisters were cruel to her on several occasions.
As you can see, Cinderella was not just a Disney Princess in the making. She was a victim of emotional abuse in the sense that she was neglected by her family and was treated unfairly. Taking all the fairy tale aspects of the movie away, you will be shocked to realize that millions of children all over the world go through the same emotional abuse as she did and the saddest part is there is no happily ever after waiting for them since emotional abuse has some very sad and often dire consequences.
Emotional abuse is what the Cinderella law aims to extinguish and this is where you will learn more about the law that is making waves in the UK. Kids are the hope of the future and this law aims to make sure all their rights are protected in the sense that they are loved and given all the necessities needed for them to grow up into well-rounded adults who will become assets to society and can lead fulfilling lives.
What is the Cinderella Law?
This law has very noble intentions in that it hopes to protect kids. It hopes to change the existing legislation which regards child neglect simply by expanding the meaning of “criminal abuse” so that it encompasses even the domain of emotions. Robert Buckland, the Conservative MP, is the principal parliamentary campaigner for the Cinderella law and he states that if this legislation is not passed it will be like Cinderella’s wicket stepmother and sisters getting away with all their abusive deeds without having to face any consequences. The original law is good, however, it does not encompass the emotional well-being of a child and this is what worries law-makers. They state that a it is not enough to feed and clothe children and send them to school since they also need to be “loved” in the sense that their emotional and mental well-being are being looked after by their parents or guardians.
Why the Call for the Law?
The call for this Cinderella law is just a part of the latest campaign to expand the range of parental behavior that falls under the “abusive” category. There are so many parental behaviors that fall under this category such as starving a child or leaving children at home to their own devices. They are kids and they need parents to love them, care for them, and guide them as they grow up into responsible and complete individuals. Proposers of this law state that according to studies, kids who are emotionally abused end up shy, socially withdrawn, etc. They end up exhibiting behavior that prevents them from assimilating properly into society and that is what the law hopes to prevent.
There is no denying that parents who are absent and neglect the emotional well-being of their kids deserve to be punished—their kids deserve better after all. However, this law does have some problems that cause some groups to raise the alarm. It isn’t that they are pro-emotional abuse but rather, they are worried that the law won’t be able to fully encompass what emotional abuse means; they are also worried that it will be too much.
What are the Arguments Against the Law?
You would think that any law that watches out for children will be welcomed with open arms and everyone will be for it but that is not the case here. There are some people who dispute the law and they present some very good arguments. For instance, parents who drink alcohol or smoke in front of their kids may be called abusive. People who oppose the practice of male circumcision might think that Jewish and Muslim parents who practice circumcision at birth are abusive. Health activists often speak out about how parents of obese kids are abusive and anti-faith groups say parents who teach their kids about religion are also abusive. Given that child abuse is viewed as such a horrible crime, many advocates from a number of different groups present their campaigns to mimic child protection.
It is worth noting that the very concept of emotional abuse or cruelty trumps other types of parental misbehavior for the reason that it involves almost every kind of ambiguous and emotionally charged family encounters. People who are for the criminalization of emotional abuse have very deliberately framed it in an expansive and amorphous manner in that virtually every kind of parental failing falls under the concept of emotional child abuse. For instance, some groups have stated that the “making fun of” kids, such as how they talk or how they communicate but isn’t making jokes at the expense of family members is just part of the family dynamic. This could leave kids with all the power to run their families and scare their parents into doing what they think is right. When you give your kids this kind of power, doesn’t that mean taking away the rights of parents to be parents?
What are the Grey Areas?
This is a law that has very good intentions since it aims to help kids and protect them from all sorts of emotional abuse but the fact still stands that it has grey areas. When it states that parents who do not love their kids because they are busy making ends meet are abusive, that doesn’t seem right anymore. Take for instance the case of the teenage girl from New Jersey who moved out of her parents’ house and decided to sue them—doesn’t that make her the abusive party? How about parents who try to understand and love their kids but just so happen to be accused of neglect by the very child they love because “they do not understand or love him”? These are some very worrying grey areas that need to be addressed before any laws are passed or the results could be disastrous.
There is no denying that there are some very real cases of emotional abuse going on with kids but that does not give lawmakers the excuse to be hasty when it comes to passing this law. If they pass this law without fine-tuning what constitutes their idea of emotional abuse, what is to stop every child or neighbor from crying wolf? The best thing that can be done here is to define a clear set of rules and definitions of what child abuse is. Only then can they put the law in place and nip emotional abuse in the bud and save the kids from growing up withdrawn and neglected.
Geri MIleff (author) from Czech Republic on August 04, 2014:
Very valid and insightful points you have there, @Sami. Emotional abuse is indeed a very detrimental case and therefore there has to be a law against it that is sound on every side. Thanks for reading! :)
Geri MIleff (author) from Czech Republic on August 04, 2014:
Hey, @LailaK! Thanks for voting up this hub! Indeed, as responsible citizens of our own countries we need to know our laws and what they entail. Keep coming back for more! :)
Sami from Kansas on July 28, 2014:
I learned about the multitude of forms that child abuse has on children's cognitive, emotional, and physical development while taking a course on child maltreatment and development. I heard a little bit about the Cinderella Law, but I did not know the full extent of everything until reading your hub. I think the law should be implemented in every form of legislation--- especially in the United States. It is hard though, when the government is not allowed to intervene on parent's discipline choices for their children. Because of this, child psychological and emotional abuse is one of the hardest cases to prove, but in my opinion, it is the most detrimental (and is present in all other forms of child abuse). Having that law in place will protect many children from living in households that are void of love and respect, and instead prohibit that form of abuse. Then you wonder why the foster system is such a complete disaster in our country.
LailaK from Atlanta, Georgia on July 28, 2014:
While I was reading your article, I kept thinking about how great this law is for children, but then when I read about the grey areas, I realized how subjective the meaning of abuse can be! Very eye-opening hub and thanks for writing it! Voted up :)