Imagine the very worst home a child could grow up in: No food in the fridge, parents strung out on drugs, the children covered with scabs and beaten regularly. You would want someone to step in and save the kids.
And then there's Scotland.
Scotland wants to treat all families as potentially abusive and appoint a "named person" (that is, a guardian) as soon as the child is born and up through age 18 to oversee the parenting. This "shadow parent" would be empowered by the government under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which will take effect in 2016.
It is based on the idea that a person who has been named by the state, touched on the shoulder, has a superior authority and insight to others. Those who have been 'named' are seen as better qualified to 'safeguard' the wellbeing of a whole nation's children. Therefore, concern for children's wellbeing becomes a state-appointed position.
…This is a new kind of parenting-by-surveillance.
The day-to-day role of a named person is to follow 'reports' about a child, to keep an eye on their files. They will have rights to see private medical reports, and to request information about that child from other agencies (there is a legal 'duty to help named person')…. The other aspect of a named person's role is to propose 'interventions'. They will have a role in drawing up a 'child's plan' if a child is found to have a 'wellbeing need': this plan will outline the 'targeted intervention which requires to be provided… in relation to the child'.
Therefore, in substance, the role of the named person is not actually to supplant the family, to state-raise children, but rather to insert a surveying, coercive authority – a spy – in the midst of every family.
This idea grows out of the conviction that Free-Range Kids (my book, blog, and movement), exists to extinguish: That all children are in danger at all times, and hence need constant oversight. Sometimes it's the police arresting a dad for letting his kids play outside, sometimes it's the police arresting a mom for letting her children walk to the pizza shop, and sometimes it's even the local library reporting a mom who let her kids, 12 and 15, walk home without coats on a night the authorities deemed too cold.
True danger lies in the notion that the state should decide if you are parenting your kids correctly. The care of your own children is not up to you.
For more stories like this one, check out Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids blog.