Parents are living in fear of aggressive and unwarranted investigations by social services, a new poll has found.
The ComRes poll, commissioned by The Christian Institute, brought to light concerns from parents that taking their child to the doctor or hospital might trigger an unwarranted investigation by child protection staff.
The poll was commissioned ahead of a legal challenge in the Supreme Court to the Scottish Government’s new state guardian, or ‘named person’, scheme.
Under proposals – set to come into force in August – every child in Scotland will be assigned a named person from birth to age 18, tasked with looking after their “wellbeing”.
Campaigners against the scheme have argued that the compulsory system will overload vital services, placing the most vulnerable children at greater risk.
The poll showed more than one in four (26 per cent) said they were concerned that taking their child to the GP or A&E might trigger an unwarranted investigation by child protection staff.
Of these, one in three said they were “very” concerned.
The poll also showed almost six in ten people (57 per cent) do not think it is right for every child to be assigned a State official to monitor their wellbeing, whether their parents want one or not.
In addition, 64 per cent of parents believe that assigning a named person to every child, whether vulnerable or not, “is an unacceptable intrusion into family life”. Just one in five (19 per cent) disagreed.
And when asked about how the Government should use its child protection resources, 71 per cent of parents agreed that they should be focused on identifying and helping those most at risk, rather than monitoring every child. Just one in seven (14 per cent) disagreed.
Living in fear
Institute Director Colin Hart described the findings as “shocking” and blamed parents’ anxiety on the increase in State interference in private family life.
“Parents should never be frightened about taking their children after an accident to see a doctor but, as State interference in our private lives increases, anxiety among normal caring parents also rises.”
Mr Hart continued: “The Government and social services are seen as interfering and too quick to launch aggressive and unwarranted investigations. No wonder parents are living in fear.”
“As this poll found, parents believe that money and resources should be focused on those children who are at risk.”
He concluded: “The authorities that should be helping truly needy kids are instead going to be overwhelmed with tittle-tattle.
Genuine serious cases will get lost in the systemColin Hart
“Genuine serious cases will get lost in the system while the full weight of State intervention is brought to bear on innocent families.”
Yesterday the Supreme Court began hearing the case against the scheme. The legal action is being spearheaded by The Christian Institute.
ComRes polled 2,030 people online between 2 and 3 March 2016. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+.