Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
Disclaimer: I’m about to ask you some ridiculous and inappropriate questions.
Cast your mind back to being nine years old. In the course of that year, how many cars did you steal? How many times were you arrested? On how many occasions did you use LSD, cocaine, ecstasy or heroin?
What about life as a 14-year-old. How many times had you been pregnant or got someone else pregnant? How many children had you given birth to or fathered? How often did you or your partner use a condom?
And what about your relationship with your parents. Did you feel close to your mum and dad? If you misbehaved, did they take away your TV privileges? Did anyone in your family ever argue or shout at each other?
Perth and Kinross Council asked all of these questions in a 2013 kids’ survey. As inappropriate as it may seem, school children were asked about their drinking habits, drug use, intimate sexual experiences and even family finances.
But rather than listening to concerns, and scrapping the survey format, a similar questionnaire (called ChildrenCount) was rolled out in Perth and Kinross, as well as in Renfrewshire, Angus, Dundee and North Ayrshire.
It included the following questions:
• When you have misbehaved do your parents listen to your side?
• How often do your parents tell you they’re proud of you for something you’ve done?
• Do you enjoy spending time with your father?
• How old were you when you first smoked cannabis?
• How many times in the past year have you sold illegal drugs?
As if that wasn’t bad enough, last month it was revealed that Scottish pupils will soon face new tests about their private lives. Children could be asked if they have a cosy home, whether their parents make them feel special, or who clothes them and cooks for them. All of their answers will be stored on a giant Government database.
As top social work consultant Maggie Melon said, the information could easily be “interpreted as evidence of child abuse or neglect”.
Aside from being grossly inappropriate and an obvious intrusion into private family life, the surveys are doubly concerning when viewed in the context of the impending introduction of a Named Person for every child, tasked with policing their ‘wellbeing’.
Parents should not be made to feel like their judgement is constantly under question. Nor should the state assume that it knows best.