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Cornwall's Child Cruelty Risk

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8:03am 28th December 2014

It is claimed that almost 200 teenagers are at risk of child cruelty in Cornwall.

Campaigners say the law protects youngsters up to the age of 16 but after that they are on their own.

Figures seen by Pirate FM show 174 sixteen and seventeen year olds are registered by Cornwall Council as 'children in need.'

Lily Caprani from the Children's Society wants the loophole closed: "It could be that they're not getting the food they need, medical treatment when they're ill or not knowing where they are, for example, at night. If there's a parent or an adult responsible for a child who is not bothering to take care of a teenager in any of those ways - that's child cruelty.

"Anyone who has ever parented a teenager knows that they still need looking after when they're 16 or 17.

"It could have an absolutely devastating effect on their lives. 16 and 17 year olds are very vulnerable, they need care just like other children and the law should protect them in the same way."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "The Council supports any change in the law that protects children and young people from abuse. However, the law is the last resort, not least because it is after the event and relies on the test of beyond reasonable doubt whereas the effective protection of children relies on parents and families and communities and services being alert and prepared to act on the balance of probabilities. This is what we mean by preventing harm. This is what keeps children and young people - and vulnerable adults - safer."

8:03am 28th December 2014

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