Matt Downie, from the charity Action for Children, says it's important to dispel fears that parents or guardians could be criminalised for occasional less-than-perfect parenting.
"Scapegoating, humiliation, consistent rejection, children being forced to witness domestic violence... these things are not just bad parenting. They're cruelty," he told ITV News.
It comes as calls are made for the emotional neglect of children to be made a criminal offence.
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Ian Paul Mcguigan and two men from Liverpool were caught after a police surveillance operation.
The case has now been adjourned until February, due to a delay which the judge blamed on Brexit.
Police described it as a 'particularly vicious crime'.