Who owns Scotland’s children?

When I started work in 1981 disputes between parents about their children’s care were rare and descriptors were ‘custody’ and ‘access.’ Mums usually were the custodial parents and Dads who took to the law normally were relegated to the status of ‘visitors’ enjoying access or visitation. I’m not saying it’s right; it’s just how it was.

A little progress was made so that by 1993 I’d managed a whole six court actions where equality as between parents began to be recognised and saw six dads who were clients of mine becoming custodial parents, at least in the eyes of the law.

Thankfully progressive legal minds understood the need to move beyond notions of possession to parental responsibilities and rights so by the mid 90s parents were enjoined to exercise their rights so they could fulfil their parental duties. There was some harmony and hope but perhaps that’s temporary.

For what we see now in Scotland are moves whereby children, as soon as they can ‘verbalise,’ are asked their views as to where and with whom they want to live, visit, or not. Those views are meant to be weighed and significance depends on factors including age, maturity and understanding. So much for the theory. In the real world, Sheriffs opine that the children get it more right than the parents do; that children who have just started school and cannot even read or write should adjudicate on their own futures and evidence about best interest, past performance and future indicators seems rarely to be considered by the Bench.

The latest though takes the biscuit; not only are schoolchildren permitted to socially transition their gender at school without prior parental permission or knowledge, with teachers enjoined to keep secrets as required, regardless of their professional duties or opinions let alone experience and common sense; we now are to be subjected to a regime damning concerned parents who might suggest to a teen child suffering doubt in puberty, or the impact of social contagion, that caution is desirable – said parent risks the removal of the child from home and the loss of all parental rights. Scotland 2023 – who saw that coming???

These proposals come from a group appointed by the Scottish Government which seems not to represent Scottish society at large or to reflect Scotland’s views on child rearing, safeguarding and welfare. If you tolerate this, maybe your children will be next.