Great Scot! This ‘state-sponsored parent’ law takes the cake

Scotland is debating the mother of all nanny-state laws: Whether every child in the land should have a “named-person” (aka a ‘state-sponsored parent’) to “promote, support or safeguard the well-being of the child or young person.”

The idea is to provide every child with their own government bureaucrat to act as an arbiter of the child’s well-being. The “named-person” is someone other than the child’s parent.

According to the Scottish government this law will:

  • Place a duty on NHS (National Health Service) Boards to allocate every child with a named person from birth to school age
  • Place a duty on local authorities to allocate every child with a named person until they are 18 or leave school, whichever is later.
  • Oblige all relevant authorities to share information with the named person if it is necessary to safeguard, support and promote the well-being of the child.

As current Scotish Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell puts it:  “We want Scotland to be the best place in the world for them to grow up. A place where rights are respected and where children can access all the opportunities and support they need, when they need it.”

But what Campbell means when she says “rights” is the rights of the children, as defined by the government, not the rights of the parents to raise their own children as they see fit and without government interference.

According to a report in the Scottish Express there is plenty of opposition and concern about the surveillance and information gathering nature of this legislation: “For children under five, the state guardian will usually be a health visitor, while for school-age children it will usually be the headteacher or deputy…They will have to record “routine information” about their charges, which is then stored in a vast database, and can raise concerns about a child’s wellbeing that could ultimately result in them being taken into [government] care.” And as a home-schooling advocate argued “I wouldn’t rule out a legal challenge to these specific aspects,” said Alison Preuss Secretary of the Schoolhouse Home Education Association.

Of course there are already people functioning as “state-sponsored parents” who are absolutely thrilled with the task. Marion Samson, headteacher at Westquarter Primary and Nursery in Falkirk, is a ‘Named Person’ who says her role is to “challenge” families who are not bringing up their children properly.But where does the idea that a school teacher is somehow better able to raise a child than the kid’s parent? And as one observer has noted, the legislation does little solve a problem, and instead is just reinforcing a failed system. As Scotland Herald columnist Ian Bell wisely wrote against the legislation: “The number of children coming into public care is rising year on year. But instead of looking to why this is the case, and prioritising (sic.) measures that would reduce the harm of broken families, the Bill is concerned with mitigating the failure of prevention.”
It might seem like from a distance in the US, we can look down on this sort of Big Brother parenting. And happily, the American system isn’t quite at the this stage of government interference with parents rights. But that doesn’t mean that we’re so far removed from this level of government nannying either.
I recently received a survey from the Pennsylvania office of Child Development and Early Learning to assess the state-licensed daycare that my children attend. Some of the questions had to do with the quality of care and programming at the facility. But not all. In addition to those evaluative queries, the survey asks me to judge how well the daycare is bringing available government welfare programs to my attention. The reason for asking seems to be based on the notion that a day care should be in the business of pushing parents to take advantage of government welfare services. This is not why I’m sending my kid to daycare, mind you. But it is part of the state’s agenda for its own definition of “caring for children.”
We aren’t Scotland yet, but we ought to be careful about how complacent we get about allowing non-elected bureaucrats from getting into our private family business.

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