KEEP calm and listen to Tam. As Holyrood debates the Named Person legislation today, that’s my advice to anyone worried by some of the more ludicrous stories put out by the right-wing press.
Tam Baillie is Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.
He is politically neutral and therefore a source of sound advice on a topic which the Tories and their cheerleaders have misrepresented to a reckless extent.
So before we go any further, state snoopers will not be questioning the colour of your child’s bedroom wallpaper.
Nor will you be in the pokey for feeding them the occasional poke of chips.
For an impartial explanation of Named Person in clear English I can highly recommend Tam’s website – just go to your browser and type www.cypcs.org.uk/ufiles/Named-Person-statement.pdf.
Here, you will find Tam’s considered statement on the scheme. Named Person is nothing more than a point of contact.
It is a way of ensuring parents and children can easily access any help they need from a person they already know – effectively a teacher or, for under fives, a health visitor.
The legislation means these professionals MUST direct you to the support you need.
A good example might be if your child is being bullied but you cannot prove criminality.
With the legislation now in place, you would have someone who is obliged by law to take you seriously.
Another example might be if a child is exhibiting behavioural problems, perhaps as a result of some trauma, such as bereavement.
You now have a point of contact to direct you to support – perhaps the kind of help that could prevent the development of long-term mental health problems. This is what is known as “early
intervention” – a way to help families at an early stage to prevent really acute issues developing.
But you don’t need to ask and you don’t need to take the advice offered – the service is simply there to offer support if it is sought.
Read the rest of my column here.