When it comes to child protection there are powerful arguments in favour of the Scottish Government’s controversial plan to appoint a “named person” for every child in the country. Cases of abuse of children in the home, persistent neglect, sexual assaults, bullying and failure in welfare co-ordination deeply appal the public when such cases come to public light. The cry goes up for “lessons to be learnt” and action to be taken.
The Scottish Government’s response is the Named Person scheme. This will see every child having a state official appointed even before birth to monitor their wellbeing up until the age of 18.
But many fear that this is state intrusion too far. It is now the subject of a legal challenge in the Supreme Court. And according to a poll commissioned by The Christian Institute, part of the No To Named Persons campaign group, almost two-thirds of Scots believe the scheme is “an unacceptable intrusion”.
Less than one in four think every child should have a state-appointed named person. And just 24 per cent said they would trust a named person to always act in the best interests of a child.
Getting the balance right to ensure that no child falls between different services and at the same time guard parents’ rights against state intrusion was never going to be easy. The problem here is that the named person scheme puts a powerful weapon in the hands of government officials and gives the potential for the state to intrude too much in to the lives of private individuals.
It is also likely to be complex and unwieldy in execution, and needs to be rethought.