Named Person and smacking ban legislation risks opening major can of worms
I have some legitimate concerns regarding the introduction of the proposed Named Persons legislation and the intention to criminalise the smacking of children.
Having read about the proposals and seeing what others have written in your letters pages, no one seems to have made any link between these two radical and unnecessary changes to legislation.
It seems to me that we have a recipe for disaster, and the law of unintended consequences comes to mind. With Named Persons, in every job in every walk of life there are people who will act with a great deal of zeal, others might take a more laissez faire attitude and those in the middle will always do their best. How they approach their tasks will depend on their level of training and the success of that will then depend on their own attitude to the issue under consideration.
As we all know, children develop at different rates, their understanding of vocabulary varies, some may be more forward than others, the list is endless. Some children may be more manipulative than others, some most certainly require more protection than others.
What concerns me is that there is legislation in place now that can and does protect children. Of course mistakes will be made; that is regrettable but unfortunately is part of human nature and any civilised society will try to ensure that processes are fool-proof.
Some parents choose to chastise their children by a smack – current laws and procedures should ensure that the use of excess force is identified and addressed. Under the new proposals, imagine a child who is unhappy with a decision made by a parent, eg they have had their ipad or similar confiscated. They go to school next day and tell the Named Person, their teacher, that they have been smacked. The Named Person is dutybound to report this and a totally unnecessary investigation ensues with potentially damaging consequences for the family.
A smack is an assault. The definition of assault includes unwanted physical contact with another. How does the Scottish Government propose to ensure that Named Persons understand when a line has been crossed? Is a parent supposed to stand aside whilst their child tries to do something reckless which might cause them harm and not lay hands on them? How is an uniformed person to know when a parent is taking reasonable steps to restrain a child?
These proposals are highly dangerous and present untold opportunities for all and sundry to challenge the right of parents to bring up their children in a way they deem fit. What makes the Scottish Government think that they know best?
L. W. TURNBULL Edderston Road, Peebles