Research by The Children's Society has found that teenagers aged 16 and 17 are the most at risk of abuse and neglect than any other age group but get the least protection.
They showed that one in every 50 teenagers aged 16- or 17-years-old, around 25,000 in total, are at risk of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or not being provided with adequate food or clothing.
Despite being the most at-risk group, current legislation does not give older teenagers the same legal protection as younger children. Currently child cruelty laws relating to neglect, ill-treatment and abandonment only apply to children up to the age of 15.
The Children’s Society is calling for legislation to be extended to cover older teenagers.
Lily Caprani, strategy and policy director at The Children’s Society, said: “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. Victims of cruelty and abuse can experience devastating mental and physical harm that can blight the rest of their lives. In the eyes of the law, they are children until they are 18 yet the law does not sufficiently protect from abuse and cruelty.”