The proposed Named Person scheme – under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 – is arguably the single greatest threat to human liberty for many years in this country.
Under this scheme, which is part of the GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) strategy in child care, every child will be monitored by a Government-appointed “Named Person” whose remit will be to make sure each child in their care is happy and in good general wellbeing.
Any parent will immediately get a red flag by this point because, although a child’s physical and mental wellbeing is of vital importance and should be the concern of anyone involved with children, keeping kids happy is a mission Ethan Hunt would not choose to accept. The problem with the Named Person scheme is that it puts the happiness of children as a priority – and indulges the child to such an extent that it becomes a weapon that fussy Named Persons can use to beat parents with. If wee Susie is deeply unhappy at the colour of paint her Mammy and Daddy used to decorate her bedroom, her subsequent “depression” could trigger state interference.
The NP scheme is based on the present child protection culture of suspicion, which is predicated on assuming every parent who is sucked into the system is guilty of some form of abuse. This has seen Social Services become weaponised by over-zealous busybodies in schools and has seen the role of Social Workers in Child Care drift from their remit of care for people into becoming extensions of the Police.
Let me be very clear. As someone who has campaigned against child abuse for many years, I am all for anything that prevents children being in danger. I remember fighting hard for a culture where children who cried out were heard and believed. We now have that culture. Sadly, however, it is one where cunning, manipulative children can exploit the system to their own advantage. Unfortunately, the system has gone too far in the other direction and children’s complaints are now taken as gospel.
This makes any unhappiness of children a matter of abuse on behalf of the parents. If you tell your kids off too excessively, you could be guilty of emotional or mental abuse. Now, of course, this is true if you are constantly screaming verbal abuse at your child. But when wee Johnnie is seen to be miserable in the playground, is asked what’s wrong and replies he is upset because Mummy tells him repeatedly to clean his room, is this really a conversation that could lead to allegations of abuse?
You’d be surprised. Already over-zealous people in loco parentis are contacting Social Services over the tritest of comments made by schoolchildren – and Social Workers have to investigate. Imagine how this will escalate under the NP scheme, which gives Named Persons virtual godlike powers over the lives of children and their parents.
Most Named Persons will be Head Teachers at school. This means that the NP scheme is definitely not about direct, personal care for each child. In that respect it already fails the GIRFEC approach. How can you expect a Named Person to be responsible for dozens or hundreds of children?
For me, the big question is: Who will monitor the monitors? How can parents and children be assured that they will not be victimised by Named Persons? We have all had teachers who disliked us, children and parents alike. I know of many cases where parents have been threatened with Social Services simply for disagreeing with school policy over the most trivial of matters.
The Named Person scheme will only exacerbate this kind of thing. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to take into account its greatest potential weakness, which is that a Named Person is only as good as their character. In other words, if you have a decent human being as your child’s Named Person, you have won a watch and can even be quite thanful for the extra layer of protection your child needs in these dangerous times.
However, if your Named Person is an Agatha Trunchbull, you could be living in a nightmare world after 31st August this year, when the NP scheme comes into effect. Trunchbull is the fictional Head Mistress in Roald Dahl’s bestseller Matilda. Portrayed superbly by Pam Ferris in the 1996 film of the same name, Trunchbull is the archetypal cruel teacher whose horrific treatment of the kids in her care is augmented by the fear and ignorance of parents and teachers who are too weak or timid to confront her.
Parents in Scotland have good cause to hope that Roald Dahl was not taking a prophetic look at the lives of children in Scotland under this monstrous scheme.
How would you like this person to be your child’s state-appointed guardian?
You can join the campaign against the Trunchbull Scheme here