A Christian rights organization in the United Kingdom has promised to mount an attack on what its chief calls “Big Brother politics writ large” – a law adopted in Scotland that would assign a legal overseer to every child when it is born.
“It is clear this bill breaches European rules through its attack on the family. … Ordinary Scots should be very afraid,” Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute said after the parliamentary law was adopted on a 105-0 vote.
“We have no option but to challenge this illegal law all the way,” Hart said. “This is a dreadful extension of the state’s tentacles into family life.”
The law requires the National Health Service to appoint a health worker to be a “named person” with overseer responsibilities for every child. At age 5, the responsibility for that “named person” would be shifted to local governments.
According to the institute, “The state-employed named person would be able to share information with a wide range of public authorities and may intervene without parental consent.”
The organization earlier had obtained a legal opinion from Aidan O’Neill, who found that the government’s “named person” program allows it to make decisions that “cut across” the rights of parents.
O’Neill was the legal expert who suggested that the European Convention on Human rights, which requires governments to respect “private and family life,” would not allow the law.
According to the London Telegraph, the Children and Young People Bill is under fire for overstepping government rights.
The report explained: “The Conservatives unsuccessfully argued that a guardian should only become involved where there were concerns over issues of well-being or safety of a child.”
Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative Party young people official, told the newspaper, “This will tip the balance of family responsibility away from parents towards the state – something which most parents find completely unacceptable.
“Forcing all young people to have a named person will, inevitably, dilute the resources available for our most vulnerable children.”
The Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland and a number of legal organizations have opposed the idea.
The institute’s plan for the legal challenge was announced just hours after Scotland’s parliament adopted the law. It came only days after it was revealed that the government already was operating under some of the provisions of the law.
Theinstitute reported some 8,000 children already had been singled out for “targeted intervention” by the government.
A government official revealed that 7,927 children already had been given a “Child’s Plan” by a teacher or heath department official.
In a report by the institute, Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said the figures suggest that “thousands of families are having their privacy interfered with on a daily basis.”
WND previously reported that a sociology lecturer was warning the plan could lead to the targeting of perfectly good and careful parents.
Lecturer Stuart Waiton told the institute, “It will take very little to trigger an investigation into a child and from there a false picture can easily be arrived at.”
Innocent issues such as what a child eats or the views they express could make “good parents fair game” for the “health and safety zealots, obsessed with risk management,” he said.
WND reported that parents in Scotland were fighting the “anti-parent” proposal. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the measure is part of an initiative that calls for “Getting it Right for Every Child.”
But the Scottish Express reported that 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 Scottish 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.”
Critics charge the plan also would allow children who are angry with their parents to report them to their named person, with potentially devastating consequences.
The government has defended the idea, explaining: “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. 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.”
WND reported that Will Estrada, director of federal relations for 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.”