FAMILY AUTONOMY

The Named Person Scheme is an unjustified interference in family life. The implication that every family needs overseeing by a state official is both demeaning and dangerous. The family is a private realm into which the state should only reluctantly intrude out of necessity. Unless there are clear reasons, it should be assumed that parents care for their children with love and commitment, devoting themselves in a way that the state cannot begin to emulate.

The term “Named Person” seems designed to disguise the nature of the role: “Guardian”, “Monitor” or “Overseer” would have been more descriptive titles, but these would have alerted people to the nature of the scheme. Lowering the threshold for intervention from abuse or neglect to vague and all encompassing “well-being” concerns opens the door for Named Persons to judge families according to highly subjective and value-laden criteria. Trivial deviations from parenting ‘best practice’ can be recorded, accumulated and presented as a case against parents. There are many ways to be a good parent, and parents should be free to raise their children according to their own values.

Alongside the Named Person Scheme, the Scottish Government has published guidelines for parents. These guidelines reflect a narrow parenting style and must be seen as an indication of the criteria that Named Persons will use to assess parenting. It should be remembered that the Scottish Government is undertaking a project to remove all punishments from schools, and always wants children’s views to be given more weight. Parents will be judged from such a standpoint. Particularly in schools, the Named Person can present themselves as an authority figure above parents, to whom children can complain about the service offered by their mum and dad. The Named Person’s subsequent intervention “to help resolve the issue” would erode parental authority.

What happens when pupils are taught at school that punishments are ineffective and counterproductive, and then dad sends a boy to his room for being rude to mum? Incessant inquiries into every child’s well-being invite criticism of parents by children. The Named Person Scheme legislation has been struck down by the Supreme Court, but the philosophy of seeking to inject state ‘wisdom’ into family life lives on and the Named Person Scheme will continue to present a challenge to the integrity of family life.

Parents who smack their children should not be criminalised.

Teaching children that they can choose their gender is harmful. Steering children and young people towards puberty-blocking drugs and sex reassignment surgery is irresponsible. Parents should be free to overrule interventions by government agents when guiding their children on such matters. Parents are best placed to understand their children and have primary responsibility for their care and well-being, as such their views must take precedence over other voices when guiding their children on such matters.

The legal Age of Consent should be sixteen, without exception. The current legal acceptance of sex involving 13-15-year-olds fails to protect young people from the possible negative consequences of sex at such a young age and communicates to young people that society approves of such behaviour. Many parents are urging their children to wait until they are older before having sex, but the state currently undermines this message.

Abortion should not be available to under 16s without parents being informed.