When the bridal couple walked into the church, the older sister walked on their right side and the younger on their left side, and the pigeons pecked out one eye from each of them. Afterwards, as they came out of the church, the older one was on the left side, and the younger one on the right side, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye from each of them. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.
The fussbuckets of the children's services world appear to have won their campaign to allow the government to lock up parents who are emotionally cruel to their children:
Parents who fail to show love and affection towards their children could be sent to prison for up to 10 years under a “Cinderella Law” to be announced in the Queen’s Speech in June, according to a report.
The move will make “emotional cruelty” a criminal offence for the first time.
The decision was hailed as a “monumental step” forwards by a children’s charity, which said children could grow up with “ lifelong mental health problems” or end up taking their own lives.
There is only one question to ask here - who is deciding when being strict and brusque tips over into 'emotional cruelty'? The MP promoting the bill chooses the stigmatise step-parents (most of which do an OK job helping to bring up someone else's children) and uses the most pathetic appeal to emotion available - the fairy tale:
“Not too many years after the Brothers Grimm popularised the story of Cinderella, the offence of child neglect was introduced,” he said, but added: “Our criminal law has never reflected the full range of emotional suffering experienced by children who are abused by their parents or carers.
“The sad truth is that, until now, the Wicked Stepmother would have got away scot-free."
Now, as I remember it, the Wicked Stepmother's sin was to treat Cinders as a skivvy and not let her go to the ball. There's nothing in the tale to suggest that Cinderella was emotionally scarred by this treatment however egregious it was and however much the Wicked Stepmother favoured her own (famously ugly) daughters. I fail to see in this how locking up the Wicked Stepmother would have achieved anything? Would it have made Cinders' life better somehow? Or, more likely, would it have provided a little cruel schadenfreude for her as she jollied off into the sunset with the Prince!
Just as we have done with 'offence' where the police are close to being able to arrest people randomly for just saying stuff, with this new idea we hand the power to public agencies to seize children and lock up their parents for almost anything. There is no boundary to emotional or social cruelty, it is simply a judgement made by one flawed individual about another flawed individual.
And it hands real power to people who say things like this:
Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said he had met children who had been “scapegoated in their families, constantly humiliated and made to feel unloved”.
Think of the teenage girl screaming at Mum (or worse step-mum); "you don't love me, you don't care". Or the grunting young lad refusing to make eye contact with Dad (god forbid, Step-dad) for days on end because he turned off the football and insisted he did his homework.
Child protection authorities already have the powers they need to respond to children who are being damaged by their home environment. What we have here are people who don't just want to protect the children, they want to punish the parents.
This proposal isn't about child protection, it's about vengeance.And we don't need it.