Tuesday, June 4, 2013
When I first heard about the "Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill" introduced into Parliament on April 17 of this year, I assumed naively that it was an "Onion" type spoof. Sadly, it is not. Under this proposal, every child and young person will be assigned a "named person" (parents of the child are ineligible) whose job it is to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person by, among other things, advising, informing, or supporting the child or the child's parents; and raising a matter about the child with a relevant authority. Information deemed relevant on each child will be collected by the named person and passed on to successor named persons or other relevant authorites.
A "targeted intervention" is developed by the creation of a "child's plan" when "the child's wellbeing is being, or is at risk of being, adversely affected by any manner." In deciding whether a plan is needed and the contents of the plan, the "authority" making the decision will "so far as reasonably practicable ... ascertain and have regard for the views of the child, and the child's parents."
Scottish Ministers have broad authority, as far as I can tell, to determine what consitutes a threat to a child's well being. The Bill itself doesn't contain an appeal mechanism for parents or their children although the existing Act may contain some provision for appeal.
In "Vouchers Withing Reason," which I review here (see also here), and his his other books, law professor James Dwyer argues that parents are mere licensees of the state for child rearing purposes, with state experts determining (and dictacting to parents) the meaning of child wellbeing. Scotland seems to be taking a page from Dwyer's playbook.