The Scottish Parliament is considering a controversial bill that would assign a social worker to every child born in the country in order to “promote, support or safeguard the well-being of the child or young person.”
The Children and Young People Bill, though well-intentioned, has many critics who believe it infringes too much on the personal nature of child-rearing. According to the bill, every child would be assigned a “named person” other than the parents, but unlike in the case of naming a godparent, the parents do not have a choice of opting not to have one.
All “named persons” must be employees of a child care service provider, such as a health care, social or school worker. According to the bill, they are tasked with:
1. Advising, informing or supporting the child or young person, or a parent of the child or young person,
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2. Helping the child or young person, or a parent of the child or young person, to access a service or support, or
3. Discussing, or raising, a matter about the child or young person with a service provider or relevant authority.
Christopher Booker with the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph is staunchly opposed to the bill and explained that it complicates an already pervasive issue of state interference in child-rearing. In many cases, Booker explains, the state is needed to protect a child. However, at the same time, a lot of families do not need the extra support, and the program would simply end up stretching thin already limited social worker resources.
In too many of the cases I have followed where children have been removed from their families for what seems to be no good reason, their nightmare began with a report by a teacher or a doctor that got some overheard remark or slight injury absurdly out of proportion. Too often, such suspicions then harden into allegations that are never properly tested against the evidence, and the damage is done. However admirable, in theory, the thought of appointing a “guardian” to watch over every child might seem, experience suggests that, in practice, this may exacerbate those weaknesses in our existing “child protection” system, which make a mockery of the noble aims it was set up to promote.”
In addition to Booker and similar-thinking lawmakers, the Scottish public has also taken action against the bill and has submitted a petition with 1,200 signatures on it to persuade parliament not to pass the bill.
Scottish members of parliament will vote on the bill later this summer.