Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Wellbeing and welfare are still being confused

"Im a former `looked-after` child. Ive suffered the abuse and neglect that this scheme is intended to help protect children from. Having scrutinised the details for myself, I fully support it."

"Scottish Labour and the Lib Dems voted in favour of the Scottish Governments proposals for the NP Scheme in 2014, while the Conservatives abstained. Yet just a few weeks before the election Kezia Dugdale performed a U-turn, calling the policy a `mess` and demanding it should be paused."

"But child protection isnt a political game, and those who choose to wilfully misinform and indulge in scaremongering tactics with such an important subject for the sake of petty party advantage are as far as Im concerned engaging in nothing more than blatant opportunism of the most despicable kind."

"Many children find themselves in the care of their local authority as I was the vast majority of looked-after kids have become so for care and protection reasons. Theyll probably have experienced neglect or mental, physical, sexual or emotional abuse. To them the thought of a `state guardian` is not a derogatory sneer, as used by campaigners like No2NP, but a symbol of hope."

"The NP scheme is not taking away the rights of parents to raise their children, but merely formalising measures already in place to try to help ensure children are protected from harm. And the uncomfortable truth is that most of that harm happens within the family home, from family members."

It is very sad to read a piece like this. Because Donna was a `looked-after` child it is understandable why she would see the state guardian as a symbol of hope. For a child who needed rescued from her family, privacy was obviously a secondary consideration.

However, most children will never be `looked-after` and privacy is an issue for them as well as for their families. It is their right to have a private and family life, free of state interference. But by using the SHANARRI wellbeing indicators, Named Persons are encouraged to collect, collate and spread private data around the various agencies, actually putting these children at unnecessary risk. Those risks may come from data thieves who might sell that information, or from malicious individuals wanting to do mischief, or from paedophiles looking for accessible children. This is why similar legislation and ContactPoint were discarded in England.

There is evidence from the Scottish Children`s Parliament that young people want their privacy to be respected:
"Of particular importance to young people was the issue of confidentiality, with regard to the Named Person role and other professionals working with them. Markedly fewer Young Scot/SYP respondents selected the Named Person responsibility relating to the sharing of confidential information. 75% of the approximately 20 young people who discussed the Bill at an NHS Forth Valley even stated that they would feel upset if their Named person shared private information with another professional without discussing it with them first."
Unfortunately sharing private information is what the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 allows and why it was discussed at the NHS Forth Valley.

Again, in the comments after the post, there is confusion between welfare and wellbeing, even from children`s panel members and those who have worked in social services. Let us be clear; Donna was let down by the child protection system which is still in place and covered by the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 - it has never been repealed - and yes it does need to be improved. I have never heard of anybody arguing against protecting children from risk of significant harm (welfare), only that it should be better resourced instead of throwing money away on the frivolous wellbeing concerns of all children. Over sixty million to date on that I think. In one respect, what a waste. But for child protection services, what a missed opportunity to have done something to improve the system. 

1 comment:

  1. It`s been pointed out to me that Donna may be over 21 and the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 may not be relevant to her particular situation although that is how it stands currently.

    I have to agree. There have been a number of developments in child protection law over time. See `Timeline: A history of child protection.` But systems have been in place to protect children for many decades. Whatever the particulars are it`s the child protection system which failed Donna and why the law keeps changing.

    I think the Named Person legislation is getting in the way of further developments which may be more about social work training and resources than the law. Health visitors, teachers, social workers etc already have a duty of care. They should not be overburdoned with trivial matters.

    Perhaps the `lead professional` has the role that Donna wants for `looked after` children. It`s impossible to say.

    Really all of this should have been brought out into the light of day before the legislation was put in place.