1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

Mccanns Neglect: Not an exception?


“There's no way on this planet I'd take a risk, no matter how small, with my children."
From interview with Kate McCan in the News Of the World on Aug 5th by Ross Hall.

In circumstances where proof and evidence are adduced that the child suffered assault, illtreatment, neglect, abandonment or exposure that caused the child unnecessary suffering and injury, this shall be contrary to the best interests of the child, and in such situations, a parent or guardian who subjects a child to such illtreatment is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or imprisonment ( Children's Protection Act).


The NCB report says that many hospitals and social workers have not implemented changes brought in after the horrific abuse and murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000. It comes as new figures show that hospitals in England treat on average 471 children every week who have sustained deliberate injuries. There were 24,497 such cases among under-18s in 2005-06, involving injuries such as a black eye or broken arm. They involved a total of 21,334 children, some of whom were seen more than once. The identities of those thought responsible for the assaults were not recorded, but they include other young people as well as parents, relatives and childminders.

"The study paints a picture of tension, mistrust and disputes between professionals who are meant to raise the alarm if they suspect abuse or neglect. Its findings indicate that lessons have not been learnt widely enough since staff at two London hospitals were criticised by Lord Laming's inquiry in 2003 into the Climbie case over failures which meant that two opportunities to protect her were missed when she came in for treatment"


An Example:

The death of a little girl, beaten with a bicycle chain and made to sleep in a bath because she wet herself was blamed on the police and social workers returning her to her cruel ‘adoptive’ parents, the Old Bailey was told yesterday ... Anna suffered 128 injuries caused by beatings with a belt buckle, trainers and cigarette burns ... She was often put in a bin liner with her hands and feet tied and then made to sleep in the bath ... Anna was admitted to hospital twice during 7 months of neglect. But despite the involvement of social services, medical staff and the police, she was returned to the care of Ms X and her partner ... When she finally died, she had not eaten for two days and had spent 5 months restrained with masking tape, which had deformed her legs. During the last week she was naked in the bath. The bathroom was cold and she was alone in the darkness with the door closed.”

Mr Bennett, a former UK Independence Party prospective parliamentary candidate, said: "By the McCanns' own admission they have left their own children unattended for a significant period of time.

"What troubles me is that there has been no prosecution by the relevant authorities, namely Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire social services.

"I was also prompted by the comments of Clarence Mitchell, who said on television that the McCanns' actions were no different to what many British parents do."

Mr Bennett, who previously failed in an attempt to bring a private prosecution against entertainer Michael Barrymore over alleged drugs offences, added: "I just feel that, given the publicity surrounding this case, someone should stand up for neglected children."


CHILDREN ACT, 2001

PART 12 Protection OF Children

Cruelty to children.

246. —(1) It shall be an offence for any person who has the custody, charge or care of a child wilfully to assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child, or cause or procure or allow the child to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child's health or seriously to affect his or her wellbeing.

(2) A person found guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding £10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years or both.

(3) A person may be convicted of an offence under this section—

(a) notwithstanding the death of the child in respect of whom the offence is committed, or

(b) notwithstanding that actual suffering or injury to the health of the child, or the likelihood of such suffering or injury, was obviated by the action of another person.

(4) On the trial of any person for the murder of a child of whom the person has the custody, charge or care, the court or the jury, as the case may be, may, if satisfied that the accused is guilty of an offence under this section in respect of the child, find the accused guilty of that offence.

(5) For the purposes of this section a person shall be deemed to have neglected a child in a manner likely to cause the child unnecessary suffering or injury to his or her health or seriously to affect his or her wellbeing if the person—

(a) fails to provide adequate food, clothing, heating, medical aid or accommodation for the child, or

(b) being unable to provide such food, clothing, heating, medical aid or accommodation, fails to take steps to have it provided under the enactments relating to health, social welfare or housing.

(6) In subsection (1) the reference to a child's health or wellbeing includes a reference to the child's physical, mental or emotional health or wellbeing.

(7) For the purposes of this section ill-treatment of a child includes any frightening, bullying or threatening of the child, and “ill-treat” shall be construed accordingly.

Child Neglect cases dealt in the UK.

In R v Jasmin, L (2004) 1CR, App.R (s) 3, the Appellants had left their child aged 16 months old alone in the home for periods of up to 3 hours, whilst they went off to work. This happened on approximately three separate occasions. The Appellants were both found guilty of offences relating to neglect contrary to S1(1) Childrens’ and Young Persons Act 1933 and were sentenced to concurrent terms of 2 years imprisonment.

Lord Justice Law in summing up stated that: “… there was no evidence of any physical harm resulting from this neglect [but] “that both parents had difficulty in accepting the idea that their child was in any danger”….

In M v Normand (1995) SLT 1284, HCt Judiciary [ a Scottish case which may have persuasive authority ],the Appellant had parked his car leaving his son aged 18 months old strapped in a child’s car seat in the rear of the car whilst he and his wife went to do some Xmas shopping. A traffic warden was on duty when he saw the Appellants’ car with the chid in the car seat. The child was sitting quietly, appeared to be awake, not distressed and adequately clothed. The police were called and remained next to the car until the parents returned some 55 minutes later. The Appellant was found guilty of a contravention of s12 Childrens & Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937in that he did “wilfully neglect and abandon him in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering and injury to health”.

It was submitted that “where a child of this age was left on its own for a substantial period, and that “the child might have become distressed simply by reason of it being left alone in that period of time, and this was a circumstance which could cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health…”

Parents who abuse and neglect


Parents and caregivers that neglect their child(ren) display a wide range of demographic, socio-economic and psychological characteristics. The literature on parents in neglectful families has largely focussed on mothers, with neglect ‘usually seen in terms of the mother’s failure to provide care’ (Stevenson, 1998b, p.49), reflecting the fact that mothers are typically the primary caregivers in society (Schumacher et al, 2001, p.232).

The literature cites many ‘risk factors’ contributing to neglect:

• a large number of neglectful families are headed by a lone mother, or have a transient male (Stevenson 1998b, p.56: Kimball et al, 1980 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p. 20)
• mother younger than 21 at the birth of the first child (Zuravin, 1998 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.20)

• mother having more than one child in her teens (Zuravin and DiBlasio, 1992 cited in Virginia Child Protection Newsletter 1998 p.31)

• mothers have greater number of live births, more pregnancies and unplanned pregnancies (Chaffin et al, 1996 and Suravin, 1987 cited in Schumacher et al, 2001, p.235)
• prematurity or very low birth weight of child(ren) (Belsky, 1984 and Ross, 1984 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.20; Zuravin and DiBlasio, 1992 cited in Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, 1998, p.3)

• larger families than controls (Chaffin, 1996 cited in Schumacher et al, 2001, p.240)

• Low family income (Pelton, 1994 cited in Schumacher et al 2001, p.20; Sedlak, 1997 cited in Schumacher et al, 2001, p.235)

• neglectful parents are less likely to be in paid employment than parents in society as a whole (Creighton, 1992 cited in Minty and Pattinson, 1994, p.735)

• low educational attainment (Crittenden, 1993 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.20; Zuravin and DiBlasio, 1992 cited in Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, 1998, p.3)

• neglectful mothers have lower levels of social support from the community and their families (Polansky, 1985 cited in Stevenson, 1998b, p.42)

• presence of marital violence (Erickson and Egeland, 1996 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.20)

• substance abuse (Browne and Saqi, 1988 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.21)

• mental health problems, high levels of depression and stress (Kotch, 1995 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.21); Browne and Saqi, 1988 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p.21)

• history of physical and sexual abuse or neglect in the parent’s childhood (Egeland et al, 1998 cited in Ethier et al, 2000, p20; Zuravin and DiBlasio, 1992 cited in Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, 1998, p.3), although ‘the direct cause-effect relationship between parental history of neglect and subsequent neglect of children is not clearly established’ (Gaudin, 1993 cited in Stevenson, 1998b, p.51)

• neglectful mothers showed poor attachment to their primary caregivers whilst they were growing up (Belsky, 1984 cited in Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, 1998, p.4)

• neglectful families are less cohesive and poorly organised, with parents rarely displaying warmth and positive interactions with their children (Gaudin and Dubowitz, 1996 cited in Browne and Lynch, 1998, p.74)

• neglectful mothers have significantly lower self-esteem than control mothers (Christiansen et al, 1994 cited in Schumacher et al, 2001, p.246; Stevenson, 1998b, p.49)

• neglectful parents process information about their children differently to other parents, which contributes to a lack of sensitivity and responsiveness towards their child (Crittenden, 1993 cited in Browne and Lynch, 1998, p.73)

Evidently, there is no single ‘type’ of neglectful family. The characteristics of chronically and acutely neglectful families may also differ, with newly-neglecting parents responding to sudden stress points or life changes, for example bereavement, redundancy, divorce or illness (Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, 1998, p.3).

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