The Scottish government is implementing a new law that requires the government to snoop on parents to see whether they are giving their children enough “love,” “hope” and “spirituality” and creates an army of snoopers to do the job. The scheme requires that every person under 18 would be appointed a “named person” who would judge each child on the basis of a set of markers designed to test their well-being.
The horrific new law would require guardians to monitor wellbeing including whether the child is “healthy,” “safe,” and “active,” and could include how much “hope” and “spirituality” a child is given. Every child will be assigned a named person, a health worker or senior teacher, to oversee their upbringing to the age of 18 by 2016. Family groups believe that the law, which is already being implemented, will undermine the role of the parents.
Bob Fraser, the country’s top civil servant, who has given the law the title Getting it Right for Every Child said “It’s about linking positive well-being and positive outcomes for all children. Not just the usual suspects, not just those we identify as those in need… Every child deserves to have positive well-being. We have had suggestions of different indicators, of love, hope and spirituality.” The disclosure has fuelled fears that families could be reported to social workers if they fail to meet a state-defined “happiness index.”
“This is a dark, deeply worrying and insidious development,” said a spokesman for the No to Named Person (No2NP) campaign. “Apparently the named person will police family life according to some ever-shifting ‘happiness index,’ he said. “It’s an impossible standard for parents to measure up to.”
“Parents will be horrified at the suggestion of being targeted because a state guardian doesn’t regard their home as sufficiently spiritual,” said Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative spokeswoman for young people.
But a Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is impossible to predict which children may become vulnerable and so the named person is absolutely for every child, so that concerns are picked up early and no child goes without support.” The government argues that the law will “ensure potential cases of abuse or developmental difficulties” will be spotted and acted upon at an early stage.
Meanwhile, the parents of children who miss their appointments at hospital are already being reported to state guardians. Doctors have told them they are “now required” to act as informants for a child’s government-sanctioned “named person,” two years before the controversial legislation comes into effect. Medical staff is already threatening to report mothers or fathers if they forget to take their children to hospital appointments. In a letter sent to one family by NHS Forth Valley, a pediatric consultant wrote: “We are now required to inform the named person for your child if your child fails to attend an appointment… In addition we may also send them copies of future relevant reports.”
“The state seems intent on usurping the role of parents and reducing them to helpless spectators in the lives of their children,” said Christian Institute director Colin Hart
There are also fears that parents could be dragged into damaging child protection probes for trivial reasons. Stuart Waiton, a sociology and criminology lecturer at the University of Abertay, “claimed that innocent issues such as what a child eats or the views they express could be used against parents.” He added, “It will take very little to trigger an investigation into a child and from there a false picture can easily be arrived at.”
Under the scheme, the government has conceded that there is no opt out for parents who do not want the intrusion into their family life, even for religious or philosophical reasons.
Aidan O’Neill QC refuted the argument that the Named Person would not interfere in private family life. He said there would be “a state functionary who has the power to interfere in the lives of every child in Scotland and in family life… the power to come between the child and their parents.” He added that the Named Person’s powers to obtain and share confidential data on families without consent constituted further interference, “The basic aim is that the wellbeing of every child is to be promoted and safeguarded. That’s what parents do, that’s what parents are for.”
And what of religious upbringing? Will the state try to interfere with the religious messages and instruction children are given?
As the end of time approaches, oppression and coercion will increase. People will become familiar with government pressure to conform to their dictates that infringe on personal liberties. This will help prepare the way to receive increasingly oppressive enactments, including the final worship laws.