BY SCO Admin | February 14 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Church sees guardian bill as an attack on family life

CONTROVERSIAL Scottish Government plans to appoint a specific guardian for every child have been condemned by Church leaders amid fears they may undermine the family, as the Law Society of Scotland has also highlighted.

The government proposals for every child to have a named person appointed for them are included in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, which is expected to gain its final approval at Holyrood next week. The legislation proposes that a named person, such as a health worker or a headteacher, would be responsible for safeguarding a child’s welfare and liaising with their family.

John Deighan, parliamentary officer for Scotland’s bishops, said ‘families should be able to conduct their own affairs without interference.’

“Politicians are pursuing policies which contribute to family breakdown then trying to fix the problem with the state,” Mr Deighan said. “Apart from anything else, they don’t seem to have thought about the practicalities, the resources required. And it is not as if headteachers and social workers don’t have enough to do already.”

The bill suggests children will be monitored according to ‘eight Wellbeing indicators,’ often known by the acronym SHANARRI: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, and included.

Mr Deighan suggested the vagueness of these indicators would make the plan ‘extremely impractical.’

Theses concerns where echoed by Rev Dr John Ross, a former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, who is one of seven leading figures from the Free Church who have taken the unusual step of writing to First Minister Alex Salmond, urging him to amend the legislation and ‘restore some common sense.’

“The Scottish Government now seems intent on hijacking the legitimate rights and duties of parents to bring up their own children free of state interference,” Dr Ross, a minister in Drumnadrochit in the Highlands, said. “If this legislation is not amended, the Scottish Government will make itself the judge of every parent in this land.”

The Law Society of Scotland has already warned the legislation could interfere with respect for family and private life, and conflict with human rights, while the Faculty of Advocates said the legislation included an ‘indiscriminate provision for possible interference in the lives of all children.’


—This story ran in full in the February 14 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes

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