A bill in Scotland that would assign every minor a government “nanny” with the legal authority to ensure they are raised in a government-approved manner has faced headwinds from family and homeschool organizations, and now the lawyers are lining up against it.
WND reported earlier that parents in Scotland are fighting the “anti-parent” proposal. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the measure would assign a government social worker, or “named person, to ‘[promote, support or safeguard the well-being" of every child from birth.
The government worker would have considerable authority to order what the child and parents must do regarding matters such as schooling, health and social activities.
It's part of an initiative that calls for "Getting it Right for Every Child."
But now the Scottish Express reports the Law Society of Scotland has warned that the plan could violate European human rights laws, and one expert described the idea as "sinister."
"The proposals could interfere with Article 8 of ECHR, the right to respect for private and family life, as there is scope for interference between the role of the 'named person' and the exercise of a parent's rights and responsibilities," said the Law Society's Morag Driscoll.
"It could be interpreted as disproportionate state interference," she said.
The nation's Schoolhouse Home Education Association said the legislation "is open to abuse and misinterpretation and many parents could fall foul of overzealous agents of the state or people who are just plain busybodies."
It was First Minister Alex Salmond who recently called the plan "sinister."
The Children and Young People Bill, the Scottish Express said, also would mean children's personal details can be recorded, stored and shared through a central database.
"The legislation would also allow children who are angry with their parents to report them to their named person, with potentially devastating consequences," the report said. "Hundreds of parents have already signed an online petition demanding the Big Brother-style proposals are ditched."
It was an unidentified spokeswoman for the Scottish government who explained the idea.
"The protection and promotion of the well-being of Scotland's children and our aim of making our nation the best place for children to grow up are at heart of the Children and Young People Bill," she said. "Our focus is on the safety and protection of children. The named person, who is likely to be a health visitor, head or deputy head teacher and will usually already know the child, will be a first point of contact if help is needed. This is formalizing what should already happen and there is evidence it is working well in many areas. We are confident it is compliant with European law."
However, the Law Society raised questions.
Driscoll said the policy aims behind the legislation "are admirable and we recognize the genuine effort to improve the lives of children and young people in Scotland."
"However, we are not convinced that this legislation achieves those aims," she said.
"We are also unclear about how this legislation will work in practice and in particular, the resources required to administer the 'named person' scheme."
WND reported that Will Estrada, director of federal relations for the HSLDA, believes the idea is an outgrowth of the general belief held by organizations such as the United Nations that government knows best for everyone.
"This is an example of why HSLDA opposes ratification of [various] U.N. treaties,” Estrada said. “The argument that these treaties are mere altruistic expressions melts away when you look at what is happening in the legislatures of countries who ratify the treaties and try to live up to their treaty obligations. A ‘named-person’ for every child and national databases? No thanks.”
When WND reported earlier on the issue, it was noted that while the number of child-abuse cases in Scotland has remained about the same over the last five years, the incidents that do occur have received more media attention.
The new bill that came as a response has been praised by Aileen Campbell, the nation’s minister for children and young people.
“This government’s vision for children and young people is clear: We want Scotland to be the best place in the world for them to grow up,” she said.
The proposal outlines that a social worker will look after and monitor the child to be certain the child’s rights are not being violated based upon the standards of the United Nations Conference on the Rights of the Child.
“A local authority is to make arrangements for the provision of a named person service in relation to each child residing in its area,” the new proposal explains.