The wording (see page 15 on link) of a possible children’s right amendment has now been published. It is lengthy and complex and gives rises to immediate concerns that it might give the State more power than it really needs to protect children, power that has been abused in other jurisdictions.
It is said that this amendment is needed to protect children from abuse. However, the State already has the power to protect children from both abuse and neglect, as is fitting. It is currently permitted to intervene in families in “exceptional cases”.
Under this provision, there are currently 5,600 children in care.
The proposed wording removes the reference to “exceptional cases”. Does this mean that it will be allowed to intervene in non-exceptional cases?
We are told that the word ‘proportionate’ in the amendment will prevent the State from ‘over-intervening’ in families. But presumably the Scottish authorities believed they were acting ‘proportionately’ when they removed obese children from their parents not so long ago.
The debate we should have must centre not on whether children or parents should have more rights, but on whether parents or the State should have more rights.
It is the very condition of childhood that someone has to make decisions as to what is and is not in the best interests of children. In the vast majority of cases that has to be the parents. Only in a tiny minority of cases should it be the State.
So the question again is, will this amendment give the State too much power at the expense of both parents and children?
Finally, here is a very provocative piece by John Waters on the proposed amendment.