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Scrap the ‘Every Child Matter’ agenda

Comment 5th July 2010

As a parent I deeply resent the 'Every Child Matters' agenda which arose out of the Children Act 2004.  This Act placed the following universal values in a statutory basis:

  • be healthy
  • stay safe
  • enjoy and achieve
  • make a positive contribution
  • achieve economic well-being

The literal effect of this was to give any professional who comes into contact with children the right to make a subjective judgment on the quality of individual parenting.  This has led to nonsense interventions like this one reported in the Daily Telegraph 5 July:

Hail the heroic parents who let their children cycle to school

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/7871753/Hail-the-heroic-parents-who-let-their-children-cycle-to-school.html#disqus_thread

What happened to the Schonrocks, when they were so rash as to allow their children to go to school or play in the park on their own? They were reported to the school, and the school consulted the rules. Oo-er, said the school: according to guidance issued by the former Department for Children, Schools and Families, a school must assess whether a child is likely to suffer harm on the way to and from its premises, and if the answer is yes, then the parents must be reported. Last week the Schonrocks met the headmaster and were told that they must either supervise the journey, in both directions, or else be referred to social services; and I have to say I think that edict is utterly barmy.

The pressure is on parents these days to bring up their children according to a statutory template which often bears little resemblance to reality. Children are becoming cloistered, regimented and narrowed into an increasingly false state vision of how life should be.  This has nothing to do with child protection but everything to do with regulating child welfare which is the natural responsibility of parents.

My idea is for the Coalition Government to take note of the plethora of research on the state regulation of parenting and repeal the Children Act 2004 as necessary to prevent professionals having the right to enforce arbitrary judgments on individual parenting.

Why does this matter?

My idea is important because individual responsibility is a cornerstone of a healthy society. Yes, we need a working child protection system for the genuine cases where children become in danger. We do not need the state to attempt to run family life and individual parenting styles.

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