Italian mamma charged with mollycoddling schoolboy son

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An Italian mother has appeared in court charged with maltreatment after mollycoddling her 12-year-old son to such a degree that his physical and social development were threatened. Even in Italy, the land of the mammone – or mummy's boy – the boy's sheltered life has alarmed authorities.

Social services in the north-east town of Ferrara say the pampered child, known only as Luca, has very few friends, is not allowed to play sport and "never has any fun". They were alerted to his plight by the boy's estranged father, who says he has rarely seen his son since the couple divorced.

Andrea Marzola, the lawyer acting for the child, said: "The mother and grandparents have built a wall around this child. He can't see friends or play out with the other children."

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that Luca's school teachers had noticed that his snacks were cut into little pieces for him and that he appeared tired climbing stairs. "He didn't know how to run. He had the motor skills of a three-year-old child," Mr Marzola said.