This is the letter I have just written to my local MP, David Howarth (a very decent chap who actually gives a damn about civil liberties) re the ContactPoint database and the CAF. If this goes through, there is no point in having children; one won't be able to raise them as one sees fit, unless one emigrates.
I am writing to you today because I am extremely concerned about the implications of the CAF relating to the 'Every Child Matters' initiative. This initiative has implemented largely via the passing of Statutory Instruments rather than receiving due scrutiny in Parliament and, I fear, has grave implications for the future of our youth on two fronts: the first being that it is so invasive that it seeks to learn every aspect of a child's (note: both born and unborn) existence, and that in developing such an unrealistic spectrum of criteria which parents must undertake to fulfill, said parents may be subject to draconian measurements of punishment or even forfeit the right to raise their children entirely.
It is, for example, both unnecessary and unrealistic, as part of the criteria for 'Emotional and Social Development', to investigate parental efficiency on the basis of whether a child possesses certain (unqualified) 'fears'. It is sinister in the extreme, in an age in which psychotropic drugs - once used exclusively in the treatment of schizophrenia and manic depression - are prescribed for general malaise or so-called Attention Deficit Disorder, to claim that a child which exhibits 'anti-social' behaviour is in need of assessment. As what qualifies anti-social behaviour is unclear, one could surmise that losing one's temper, refusing to take part in certain activities on personal or moral grounds, or questioning authority may all be subject to censure. If a child were to challenge a teacher's version of historical events, having been taught otherwise by its parents, would it be diagnosed with some form of mental or emotional illness?
Similarly, the section entitled 'When to Expect Child Maltreatment' lists 'clinginess', 'refusal to take prescribed medicines' and 'temper tantrums' as 'inappropriate behaviour'. Any parent of a two- or three-year-old knows well that a child developing self-awareness will attempt strenuously to test boundaries and exhibit, often, the most appalling behaviour; older children are prone to obnoxious behaviour too. Such is life. The idea that parents may be accused of child abuse in this context is absurd; and the implication that any child displaying other than 'normal' (anodyne?) behaviour should be viewed with suspicion is a gross abuse of basic human rights, for it suggests that only total obedience will be tolerated.
Removing itself from the 'group' and failing to take upon what the government deems to be proper 'motivations' in effect denotes that the child is abnormal. If it does not involve itself in 'imaginative play' it is similarly deemed a failure. And, if its parents fail to achieve the recommended (rather ambitious, given the current financial crisis: an average of £270 per week after rents and rates) economic well-being standard, then they are deemed to be abusing the child through causing it to live in straitened circumstances.
The ContactPoint database will be available to far too many individuals to ever safeguard children's information effectively - presuming, in the first place, that such information ever needs to be taken. This level of intrusion represents the expansion of the Welfare State on such a colossal scale that it would not be unrealistic to define it as 'totalitarian': literally, that which regulates every conceivable area of private and public life. It prevents parents from using their own initiative to bring up and educate their children independently, and to use their own judgment in order to ensure a happy life for their offspring; it renders normal behaviour abnormal and creates a precedent for making humiliating, unnecessary interference in family life the norm.