While SNP MP’s condemned David Cameron’s ‘Investigatory Powers Bill’ [ IBP -otherwise known as “The Snooper Charter” ] recently from Westminster, their partners in the Scottish Parliament are quite happy to promote the ‘Named Persons’ scheme which will come into effect on 31st August, 2016.
Most critical of the ‘Snooper’s Bill’ was the SNP’s spokesperson Joanna Cherry QC, who called the bill a “rushed job” and said it needed “extensive amendments” before the SNP could support it. She then gave detailed and specific criticisms of the bill, including the introduction of “vague language.” Faced with criticism over use of the term “mass surveillance,” Cherry proposed that the bill as currently worded would enable “suspicionless surveillance” and as such “impinges unduly on privacy.”
This truly smacks of hypocrisy and double-standards, as “suspicionless surveillance” is exactly what Scotland’s parents will be under when the ‘Named Person’ scheme comes into full operation, the details of which can also be said to use “vague language.” As we all know, the ‘Devil is in the details.’Here’s a few of them to ponder on, put forth by the ‘No To Named Persons’ campaign …
11 Reasons to say No To Named Persons:
1. There is no choice – Your child gets a Named Person whether you – or they – want one or not.
2. Policing ‘well-being’ – The Named Person is responsible for overseeing your child’s well-being.
3. The Government equates well-being with happiness – a highly subjective measure.
4. The Named Person will be a co-parent – checking on the performance of ordinary parents.
5. Private information can be obtained and shared between state officials.
6. The Named Person will be told things that parents aren’t – parents will be sidelined.
7. Failure to engage could land you in trouble.
8. Genuine vulnerable children will be missed.
9. Health visitors and teachers are already overworked – they don’t need the extra burden and responsibility.
10. The pilot schemes haven’t been as successful as supporters of the Named Person claim.
11. The scheme is unclear – most people operating the scheme still don’t know what it involves.
Warning Flags :
All of these points should really raise a warning flag in most parents’ heads,if they fully realise the implications of the ‘NP’ scheme, though some might not even know about it at all.
‘Named Persons’ is part of the SNP led Scottish Government’s umbrella scheme called GIRFIC, or ‘Getting It Right For Every Child.’ Named Persons are from a child’s conception until the age of 18:
1. The Mid-Wife [ Up until the first 10 days ]
2. The Health Visitor [ From 11 Days old until Primary School entry ]
3. The School Nurse / Headteacher [ Primary School ]
4. The School Headteacher / Guidance Teacher [ Secondary School ]
To give an example of how ill thought out this scheme is: a young girl might find herself to be pregnant. Under the NP scheme, the girl might tell the school guidance teacher, who is under NO obligation to inform her parents. The same would apply if the girl asked for the contraceptive pill or even the “morning after” pill.
In general, many who’ve researched the Named Persons scheme have drawn the conclusion that it undermines every parent, basically amounts to state snooping and means our children are actually in essence, the property of the state.
However, the official Scottish Government website promotes only the positive aspects of the NP scheme, highlighting the Named Person as a point of contact that children can go to when they need help, as if it’s all voluntary.
What it fails to tell anyone is that a ‘Named Person’ is now appointed to even the unborn child.E.g.:If a woman was to decide to have an abortion, she doesn’t need a ‘Named Person’ to help her, but if she is going to give birth she will, as every child will be appointed a state guardian. Yet under current UK abortion laws,a foetus has no rights. This seems to be becoming a legal minefield already.If that’s not complicated enough, the ‘vague language’ and ‘well-being indicators’ at the centre of the Named Persons scheme are as clear as mud, as highlighted in the following quotes by the ‘No To Named Persons’ campaign …
THE NAMED PERSON WILL POLICE YOUR CHILD’S WELL-BEING:
“The guidance on implementing the Named Person scheme is littered with strange graphics to help teachers and health visitors carry out their duties. A so-called ‘National Practice Model’ has been drawn up using a series of diagrams called the ‘Wellbeing Wheel’, the ‘My World Triangle’ and the ‘Resilience Matrix’. The ‘Wellbeing Wheel’ is to be used to examine eight key aspects of every child’s life known as the ‘SHANARRI’ indicators – Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, and Included. It exists to help the Named Person (not parents) make decisions based on what needs to change to
“promote, support and safeguard” the child or young person’s wellbeing.”
Furthermore, the presumption is made that …
‘WELL-BEING’ MEANS HAPPINESS:
“There are acute differences of opinion over what enhances the wellbeing of a child. Under the Named Person approach, the broad list of potential indicators is so vague that most ordinary parents could find themselves under investigation. Bob Fraser, an adviser in the Scottish Government’s Better Life Chances unit, suggests parents could be reported to state officials if judged to be showing their child inadequate levels of “love, hope and spirituality”.
An ‘Easy to Read Guide’ to the plans even describes wellbeing as “another word for how happy you are”. The same guide says a Named Person will check that a child is respected, which includes being given a say in what they watch on TV and how their room is decorated.”
And even more worrying …
THE NAMED PERSON WILL BE A CO-PARENT
CHECKING YOUR PERFORMANCE:
“Named Persons will be able to advise and talk to children, including about very personal issues, without their parents’ knowledge or consent.Aidan O’Neill QC warned that the plans amounted to “unjustified interference” and may fail to protect people from “arbitrary and oppressive” governmental powers.
The Schoolhouse Home Education Association refer to the measures as a ‘gross intrusion into family life’, while the Faculty of Advocates described the proposals as a plan which ‘dilutes the legal role of Parents’.”
One of the 1st Named Persons Banned
From Working With Children For Life:
This is highly unlikely to appear on the Scottish Government’s website either, but was widely reported on 28th Jan, 2016:
“A teacher appointed one of Scotland’s first “state guardians” faces a lifetime ban from working with children. Dayna Dickson-Boath was today struck off the teaching register for sharing sick fantasies about abusing youngsters. Scotland’s teaching watchdog also recommended that Dickson-Boath be placed on a list of persons unfit to work with children in any capacity.
Only 14 months ago the guidance teacher was appointed Named Person for 200 secondary pupils under the Scottish Government’s controversial scheme to provide every child under 18 with a ‘state guardian’.”
~Martin Little, the Press & Journal.
Secret Quizzing of Scots Schoolchildren:
Teachers are now being trained to access pupils, [ including those at still at nursery ] using a tool called “What I Think” which is designed for children up to the age of eight.Information can come from a variety of sources such as drawings, photographs, recordings and conversations.
“Named Persons are advised to obtain the data in a “natural” way so that youngsters do not suspect they are being targeted, for example discovering who prepares a child’s meal at home using a casual conversation at snack time.
The system also provides a number of sample scenarios that suggest a child could be at risk, such as them not missing their mother when they stayed overnight elsewhere or them being shouted at by their father after having an accident when playing alone in a park.”
~The Telegraph, 28th Feb 2016.
“Younger children will be encouraged to divulge information about their home life in lessons which include prompt cards, games and songs to familiarise them with the Scottish Government’s definition of well-being.
Older children will face a series of questions, on areas ranging from home life to sexual health, which ask them to rate experiences on a scale from zero to ten.”
~The Mail On-line, 28th Feb, 2016.
However, only when we join all of this together with the draconian adoption laws of the UK can we really see the big picture and the potential disaster in the making for some children, their parents and their whole families …
Forced Adoption & Secret Courts:
The UK at present is the only country within the European Union that still allows and practises forced adoptions. New-born babies are regularly torn away from their Mother’s arms before bonding can even take place, by Social Services.
The adoption rulings, held behind closed doors in secret family courts look more like a child-snatching operation endorsed by the state than a fair system that’s supposed to help either parents or children. Parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles and indeed all family members are bound by gagging orders to never speak to the media about court proceedings, with jail time often being the penalty that ends up being enforced.
Social services are supposed to be there to help parents who are struggling, though invariably many Mothers who contact them due to a wide range of problems from abusive partners to post-natal depression find their children being put on an “at risk” list and fast tracked for fostering, quickly followed by adoption.
Mothers who’ve actually already broken up with abusive partners unfairly find the blame put upon them, as if they’ve put their children at risk on purpose. Even when an ex-partner is out of the picture, children seemed to end up on an adoption list all too often. Another thin excuse which is wide open to being exploited by social services is the one of children being at risk of “potential emotional harm.”
Figures from the Department for Education showing that 1,390 children were adopted without the agreement of their parents in 2011, which rose to 2,400 children in 2014.
Those figures don’t include the many desperate women who’ve fled to the Republic of Ireland or Northern Cyprus in order to protect their children, sometimes before giving birth, as both these countries do not have automatic extradition treaties with the UK.
Thanks to Tony Blair’s encouragement of local authorities to meet adoption targets with huge bonuses, [ Kent received more than £2million when adoptions were double the target for one year] one has to wonder if it hasn’t become an industry where many are making money on the back of the misery of broken families?Many who run the adoption agencies are actually ex-social workers themselves and most likely still in touch with their previous co-workers.
In fact, it’s been alleged that social workers all have adoption scorecards. If they do not achieve their adoption targets, they are then named and shamed in their own departments. Surely this would push them to recommend forced adoptions, even when other solutions are possible and are more desirable?
Of course, not all social workers are devious child snatchers out to meet their adoption targets and make a quick bonus, but one has to wonder how many have been tempted by an easily corruptible system put in place with little foresight of its consequences?
“As a social worker for 15 years I have seen children taken into care unnecessarily, been ordered to lie in court, had the [ Social Services ] Department’s solicitor reconstruct my witness statement to put parent in a bad light, made to exaggerate a parent’s problems or blow up a minor incident. I eventually retired on ill health.”
~Ian Hughes, Bridgend, UK
We should all call for a complete ban on forced adoptions. Adoption without consent is described as a “last resort,” according to the British legal guidelines.However, this simply isn’t true, as many other countries [e.g. France] manage to find alternative ”last resorts“ and thus never need to impose forced adoptions. So why can’tthe UK learn from the better outcomes that are practiced in other countries?
Sent To Prison In Secret:
“Last year something like 200 people were sent to prison by the family courts, which happens in complete privacy and secrecy. The idea that people are sent to prison without any reports of the proceedings makes even more important the work that we are undertaking with the family courts, and with the important intervention of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, to open them up so that they act in the public interest while maintaining personal privacy.”
~Harriet Harman MP, 2006.
There have been many cases in the UK where law abiding parents have been imprisoned for breaching “no contact” orders made by the family courts for things as petty assending a birthday card, waving at their children in the street, speaking to them at a chance meeting and or even posting “happy birthday” on the internet.
Secret family courts should be abolished. All court proceedings should be held in the open and the press allowed access to them like any other. Children and families names can still be protected using pseudonyms.
Until Secret Courts are abolished, here are some reforms that we can call for in the UK:
1.Gagging orders should be completely lifted and parents should be allowed to speak to the media if they feel their children have been unjustly taken into care.
2. Children should not be taken from parents unless those parents have committed an actual crime that could harm their children or any other children. i.e. ‘Potential Emotional Harm’ should be thrown out as a case for forced adoption.
3. Judges should not have the power to prevent non-criminal parents from communicating with their children freely by email, telephone, the internet, or post.
4. Children in care should not be isolated from family and friends by confiscation of laptops and mobile phones, or have their conversations in real life meetings with their parents censored.
5. Children should not be placed for adoption against the will of non-criminal parents.
While the ‘Named Person’ scheme in Scotland is connected to the fostering and adoption laws of the wider UK, it’s an accident waiting to happen for some completely innocent parents and families.
Far from identifying children at risk all the quicker, which social services would be doing if they were properly funded, the ‘named person’ scheme amounts to every parent being monitored and watched by paid snoopers on the state’s behalf. It is now assumed that every child is an ‘at-risk child,’ as well as the ones who actually are ‘at-risk.’
It could be summed up like this: the state will tell you how to raise your children to fixed rigid standards set by them and if you don’t play by their rules, you can expect trouble later, even from social services. Woe betides any bohemian type parents or any who wish to opt out of child vaccinations or are even considering home schooling!
Meritocracy Pàrtaidh na h-Alba already stands against the “named person” scheme and calls for it to be either scrapped completely or amended with a voluntary in/out clause for the overwhelming majority of normal parents who aren’t on a social services ‘at risk’ register.
While most of us buy into the African proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child;” those of us who are actually parents [and therefore understand “first hand” the unique indescribable special bond between parent and child] would probably also agree with the following statement:
“Taking a child away from her family is a momentous step, not only for her, but for her whole family, and for the local authority which does so. In a totalitarian society, uniformity and conformity are valued. Hence the totalitarian state tries to separate the child from her family and mould her to its own design. Families in all their subversive variety are the breeding ground of diversity and individuality.
In a free and democratic society we value diversity and individuality. Hence the family is given special protection in all the modern human rights instruments including the European Convention on Human Rights (art 8), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art 23) and throughout the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. As Justice McReynolds famously said in Pierce v Society of Sisters 268 US 510 (1925), at 535, ‘The child is not the mere creature of the State’. ”
~Baroness Hale[ the only female judge in the UK Supreme Court ]
The times when members of the aristocracy speak any sense are few and far between, but in my opinion, that was one of them.
We all need to stand up for our rights as parents and say ‘No’ to state interference whenever it over-steps the mark. The ‘Named Person’ scheme is clearly doing just that and we need to challenge it local and national level. That would be ‘Getting It Right For Every Child, Parent and Family!’
Seán Gearárd McCloskey
Parts of the above article appear in my book ‘Meritocracy : A Revolution Of The Mind.’
Paperback version available now:
Kindle version being released on 1st May, 2016.
Pre-Order Here :
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition [12 Feb. 2016]
Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm