The offence is triable either-way with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment on indictment; the maximum penalty on summary conviction is six months, or an unlimited fine or both.

  • Evidence of emotional and behavioural consequences of child abuse is frequently presented in the following way:- impaired capacity to enjoy life – abused children often appear sad, preoccupied and listless;
  • psychiatric or psychosomatic stress symptoms, for example, bed-wetting, tantrums, bizarre behaviour, eating problems etc;
  • low self-esteem – children who have been abused often think they must be worthless to deserve such treatment;
  • school learning problems, such as lack of concentration;
  • withdrawal – many abused children withdraw from relationships with other children and become isolated and depressed;
  • opposition/defiance – a generally negative, uncooperative attitude;
  • hyper-vigilance – typified in the “frozen watchfulness” expression;
    compulsivity – abused children sometimes compulsively carry out certain activities or rituals; and
  • pseudo-mature behaviour – a false appearance of independence or being excessively “good” all the time or offering indiscriminate affection to any adult who takes an interest.

The Sentencing Council issued a definitive guideline on sentencing child cruelty which came into force on 1 January 2019. The guideline applies to all offenders aged 18 and older, who are sentenced on or after 1 January 2019, regardless of the date of the offence.

Included within the guideline is the sentencing guidance for cruelty to a child (assault and ill treatment, abandonment, neglect, and failure to protect), which attracts an offence range of: Community order – 8 years’ custody, with a maximum of 10 years’ custody.

This definitive guideline is available at the Sentencing Council website here.

Author: Linda Turner

Coaching and Therapy Currently studying Psychotherapy , Cognitive psychology, Hypnotherapy. Qualified NLP, EMDR and CBT therapist. REIKI Master. I believe in truth, honesty and integrity! ≧◔◡◔≦

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