The Scottish government has introduced a state appointed guardian for every child, who will have the final say over how a child is brought up.

Under the Children and Young People Scotland Bill, employees from maternity, education and other services will be encouraged to monitor parents and judge them on their ability to raise their children according to social and cultural expectations.

The Bill requires every child in Scotland to be appointed a Named Person, who will have the ultimate authority to decide what is in the best interests of the child.

The Named Person will also be required to share data about the child and parents with other authorities and organisations in the area.

A Named Person could be a midwife, teacher, nurse, or GP for example, who will be trained to assess a parents suitability for raising their child. Under the Bill, a Named Person cannot be a relation or a family friend of the child.

But this will not just apply to parents of children who are already identified as vulnerable or those in care. According to the Scottish government, this will apply to all new parents in the country.

In addition to the introduction of a Named Person, the legislation will also force parents to comply with a ‘child plan’ which will determined by the authorities in question.

This will come about if a parent is deemed unable to provide for the wellbeing of their child – or if it is believed that a child’s need could be partially provide for the needs for a child.

Healthcare and education workers will also be given a checklist of criteria which will be used to see whether a child is ‘at risk’ or needs state intervention.

So what will those ‘risk factors’ be?

According to a guidelines issued by the Scottish parliament, risk factors could include but are not limited to, if one of the parents is not a biological parent of a child or is a step-parent, if a parent or child is physically or mentally disabled or unwell, if English is a second language, if a child is premature or under five.

That’s right, being under the age of five, or of ‘pre-school age’ is also considered a potential risj factor, especially when combined with other risks such as, if a parent disagrees with the ‘concerns’ of a state professional or if a child is born in what is deemed to be a bad neighborhood.

If a parent does not get along with members of their extended family, or if someone in the family is taking medication – even if it is not in the immediate family who are looking after the child, then that is also considered a risk factor.

A child will also be considered at risk if the pregnancy was unplanned or does not take an active role in the local community, or does not conform to cultural or societal expectations, as outlined under the guidelines.

In otherwords, the shift has subtly changed from the state intervening in cases where the child is believed to be at harm, to their intervention where a person from the local authority believes there may be ‘concerns’.

The plans have been criticised by campaigners who say that this erodes the rights of a parent to care for their child in the way they see fit.

Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Why is the Scottish Government so suspicious of parents? Midwives shouldn’t be lumbered with acting as social workers and parent monitors when they already have important jobs to be getting on with.

“This sort of heavy handed bureaucracy smacks of treating every new parent as a suspect.”

Of course, a family won’t be subject to state intervention based upon one ‘risk factor’ alone. But if for example, a child under five, lived with a mum and a stepfather, who refused to get them vaccinated based upon health concerns, or tried to move them to a different school against the wishes of the local authority, that could be potentially be considered a combination of risk factors that would justify state intervention, under the new guidelines.

The parents would then be forced to follow a ‘child plan’ decided by the state and failure to comply could result in that child being taken away or in the worst-case scenario, parents being jailed.

This new Orwellian combination of mandatory state guardians for children, data sharing and broad new definitions of ‘risk factors’ will potentially have grave consequences for parents across the UK if it is allowed to remain unchallenged in Scotland, and is deemed ‘successful’ by the state.

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