State guardians

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While the SNP bandwagon rolls on towards Westminster, a controversial domestic policy is receiving scant attention.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act provides that the wellbeing of every child under 18 will be the responsibility of a named individual, personal to each child but not chosen by them or their parents, and not accountable to the parents.

This over-reaction to tragic cases of child neglect and abuse is likely to be counter-productive by diverting resources away from the most vulnerable children in urgent need of help.

It is also an insult to the common sense and sound judgment of the vast majority of parents, who will discover that their care for their children is to become secondary to that of a state-
appointed stranger.

The named persons will be under no obligation to share 
information with parents, but may pass it on to others. Many practical questions arise as to how this scheme can be implemented.

For example, what personal qualities, training and skills will the named persons have to 
justify their intervention in sensitive family issues, and will there be enough suitable people available who deserve to become the confidantes of children and young people?

Will a child, or its parents, be able to object to the appointment of a particular individual?

Will the child or parents have a right of appeal against decisions of the named person and, if so, to whom?

Since many cases of child abuse affect very young children and babies, how soon after birth will a named person be appointed and how will that person monitor the wellbeing of a new baby?

Who will maintain a register of all children and named persons and update it when circumstances change?

These are sample questions among many more that cast doubt on the wisdom and practicality of the scheme.

If the scheme were not actually being promoted it would be difficult to take it seriously.

If parents, and 16-17-year-olds, wake up to what is happening the SNP may find some support ebbing away.

The government would do well to invest more in children’s social work so that serious cases of abuse can be detected much sooner and appropriate action taken to avoid tragic outcomes.

Do we really want a state-controlled regime that thinks it knows better than parents when the majority of them are doing a good job?

Time, surely, for a re-think, and soon.

Geoff Miller

Dundee Road

Newtyle, Blairgowrie

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