Older teens found to be at greatest risk of abuse ahead of key debate on issue

The Children's Society believes the Serious Crime Bill being debated by MPs today should close a loophole that gives 16- and 17-year-olds no legal protection from cruelty and neglect

Photo: Adam Haranghy/Flickr (posed by model)

Older children, particularly 16- and 17-year-olds, are at a greater risk of abuse and neglect than others, The Children’s Society have found.

The charity analysed ‘in need’ statistics from March 2014 next to a 2011 population census and found the equivalent of one in 50 teenagers aged 16 and 17 in England are at risk of abuse or neglect, a higher proportion than any other age group.

Despite these figures, 16- and 17-year-olds are offered less legal protection against neglect and cruelty because of a legal loophole in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

Children in need


Lily Caprani, strategy and policy director of The Children’s Society, called on the government to update the 80 year old law.

“It is nonsensical that children aged 16 and 17 are at most risk of abuse and neglect, and yet aren’t given the same legal protection as younger children,” she said.

The analysis has been released ahead of the House of Commons debate on the Serious Crime Bill today. MPs have previously expressed their desire to change this loophole by adding an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill.

Child abduction warning notices should also apply to 16- and 17-year-olds, The Children’s Society have also said.

“This is the Government’s last chance before the election to protect vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds from abuse and neglect and keep them safe,” Caprani said.

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