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New controversial Scottish bill would appoint every child a legal guardian

A new bill that would allow the Scottish government to appoint every child in the country a legal guardian is drawing criticism from variety of groups, ranging from religious to educational.

The country's Children and Young People Bill aims to increase protection for the children of Scotland, giving more kids access to adequate care and ensuring that they are being taken care of, according to BBC. While proponents of the bill believe that it will address the needs of Scottish children, opponents believe that it infringes on the rights of parents by implying they are unable to care for their own children.

One of the most controversial components of the bill is a proposal to assign a guardian, called a "Named Person" to monitor every child from birth until age 18. The Named Persons, according to the Scottish government website, will work with parents to look after the well-being of the child.

"Depending on the age of the child or young person, a health visitor or teacher usually takes the role of named person. This means that the child and their family have a point of contact who can work with them to sort out any further help, advice or support if they need it," the website says.

Others have called the proposal a "monstrous invasion" and formed committees and protests to urge the repeal of the bill, reported The Scotsman.

A charity group called Christian Institute has raised 30,000 pounds (more than $50,900) to campaign for a judicial review of the bill and held a "No to Named Persons" conference last week.

"It is an invasion of the most grotesque nature which undermines the rights and responsibilities of ordinary mums and dads who are trying their best to raise their children in the best way they see fit," Christian Institute director Colin Hart told BBC.

The Church of Scotland also opposed the proposal, with Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton saying on behalf of the church, "The family is the fundamental unit of society. The concept of a named person diminishes the role of parents, with no obvious benefit for the most vulnerable in society," according to ScottishChristian.com.

The Herald Scotland reported, "The Rev. Dr. John Ross, a former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, said plans to have a named person for every single youngster were 'the sort of thing we would expect in a fascist or Marxist regime, not in 21st century Scotland.'"

Christian groups aren't the only ones upset. Liz Smith, a member of the Education and Culture Committee which examined the bill, asked for amendments to be made that would make the bill less invasive, such as only appointing guardians to children who are most at risk and removing guardianship at age 16 instead of 18. Her appeal was overturned, The Telegraph reported.

"It is the worst side of the nanny state, particularly if applied universally," Smith told Scottish Express. "I have no problem at all assisting the most vulnerable children but it would be wrong on moral grounds to insist that every family has a Named Person."

Other opponents that with so many children being monitored, the children most in need of help will be lost in the crowd, including the British Association for Adoption and Fostering Scotland.

"While it is very important for vulnerable children easily to be able to access support," the association reported to Parliament, "the universality of this provision may get in the way of ensuring that those who really need support actually receive it."

Emily Hales is an intern on the national team, covering issues facing families in the United States. She is a communications major at Brigham Young University.