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« Picking losers | Main | Hitchens on home education »

The NSPCC - a danger to society

The Hitchens piece posted just before this one highlights the role of the NSPCC in supporting the government's attack on the right to home educate. (In passing I should mention that the NSPCC gets about £14m a year from government, making it clearly a fake charity. Their directors also appear to be overpaid).

The organisation's head of policy, one Diana Sutton, is quoted as saying

We welcome the Government’s decision to review the guidance on home education. We believe the existing legislation and guidance on elective home education is outdated. We support the view set out by the London (LA) Children’s Safeguarding Leads network that the government should review the legislation to balance the parents’ rights to home educate their children, the local authorities’ duty to safeguard children and the child’s right to protection. We welcome the fact that this review will look at where local authorities have concerns about the safety and welfare, or education, of a home educated child and what systems are in place to deal with those concerns.

I don't think there can be any doubt where they think the balance lies. In the realm of home education the NSPCC's aims cannot be met without crushing a fundamental civil liberty -- that of being left alone to bring children up how one wishes. They cannot become involved with this kind of decision without becoming overtly political and becoming a threat to our freedoms. In fact, the aims of the NSPCC are probably wholly incompatible with civil liberties. Let me explain.

Sean Gabb wrote an interesting article about the perils of trying to prevent crime - what he calls "prior restraint" some years ago. The particular case that he highlighted was that of drink driving, and how efforts to prevent it had undermined the liberal traditions of this country: suddenly people who had previously been able to go about their business unmolested were subject to random searches  - breath tests - without even the excuse of probable cause. Overwhelmingly breath tests are negative - 87%  according to Gabb, a fact that demonstrates clearly the indiscriminate nature of the searches. Looking back it's hard not to see the criminalisation of drink driving as the start of the decline of British liberties although gun owners might point to the Firearms Act of 1902.

Looking around us, it's easy to see a general pattern. Crime prevention has an unpleasant tendency to lead to authoritarianism. We can see it in the database state, in data snooping and in a myriad of other facets of life in modern Britain. This is a difficult concept for people to grasp, but if there is to be a general campaign for civil liberties in the UK then it is a question that is going to have to be addressed. Liberarians of the right will tend to have an instinctive grasp of these issues, but those on the left are going to find it much harder to reconcile themselves to the idea that the costs of prior restraint may in fact be outweighing the benefits. Will will have to wait and see whether they can do it.

Meanwhile, the NSPCC, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, has to ask itself how it can acheive its aims without destroying any more civil liberties. As I've hinted above, I'm not entirely sure that there is very much they can do. They can help children whose parents are abusive - by providing helplines and rehabilitating children who have been removed from their parents and so on. But this is not prevention - rather it is dealing with children who are already victims of cruelty. Once the NSPCC starts getting involved with actual prevention then they cross the line into becoming Big Brother, or at least of encouraging facilitating the creation of a Big Brother state. At this point they start to become a danger to a liberal society.

I'm not sure that anyone at the NSPCC actually understands this. Until they make it clear that they do, and that their role is nothing to do with prevention, I think you should send your money elsewhere.

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Reader Comments (10)

I think you're being far too kind to them, Bish. They aren't coming up with an anti-libertarian agenda by chance.
Jan 29, 2009 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterObnoxio The Clown
The NSPCCs sole function is and always has been to advance the role of the state. The suffering children are just a tools to that end. The NSPCC goes far beyond being a Fake Charity - it's a major propaganda operation spending a quarter of a billion pounds over the past decade on the Full Stop "advertising campaign".
Jan 29, 2009 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavidNcl
Isn't the NSPCC one of those fake charities that gets most of its funding from the State anyway?

So this is exactly the sort of shite you'd expect them to come out with.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - home schooling is about to be banned. The signs are unmistakable.
Jan 29, 2009 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin
The NSPCC will never get my support or my money after this. And if they ban home ed. then the UK won't be getting my tax money either as I will be moving out of here.
Jan 31, 2009 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRT
Are you not missing the positives that this charity also achieves? OK, so maybe it does somethings that you dont agree with but I have to say that we are a lot better off for having 'protective' organisations like the NSPCC and RSPCA etc than if we were not to have them at all? Would you scap the NHS because of a personal bad experience? It feels like you have some issues and are a little overly negative and critical... maybe you should talk to someone? Stress kills you know?
Feb 3, 2009 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterpaul

What a strange argument. You really think I should ignore the fact that the NSPCC is trying to undermine basic civil liberties, just because they do some good deeds? Bizarre. I mean, if someone tries to kill you, do you let them carry on if they like puppies?
Feb 3, 2009 at 6:25 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
This reminded me of the recent advice from Sir Liam Donaldson that children should not be allowed any alcohol until they are 15. Apparently, the odd glass of wine or fruit punch will turn them all into binge drinkers, although for some reason human physiology is different on the continent.

The current age is 5, but I discovered that even this law had been broken by my foolish parents, who fed me gripe water (then quite alcoholic) as an infant. Why I haven't now got a raging appetite for snakebite remains a mystery...
Feb 3, 2009 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P
Presumably everyone will ignore the interfering old goat anyway.
Feb 3, 2009 at 10:09 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

What democratic societies should learn a lessen from Australia election 2010:

1. What goodwill of Australia parliamentary reform? Peoples power to ease their pains?
The Australia historical hung parliament demonstrated the big gap of inequality society between the small educated elite groups who get highest pay by talk feast used mouth work controlling live essential resources of the country in every social platforms against the biggest less educated groups who get lowest pay by hands work squeezed by discriminative policies that sucking live blood from poor/less wealth off?

Voters’ voices do not hear?
Voters’ pains do not ease?
Voters’ cries do not care?

1. Poverty will not be phase out if no fairer resources to share;
2. Illness will not be reducing if no preventive measurement in real action;
3. Agriculture will not be revitalize if urbanization continuing its path;
4. Housing affordability will not be reach for young generation if government continues cashing from young generation debt by eating out the whole cake of education export revenue without plough back;
5. Manufacture industry will shrink smaller and smaller if no new elements there to power up to survive;
6. Employability will not in the sustainable mode for so long as manufacture and agriculture not going to boost.

Ma kee wai
(Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)

Sep 18, 2010 at 2:57 AM | Unregistered Commentermasealake

In the UK the unholy alliance of the NSPCC, the local authority social services department and the Family Courts is one of the major evils of the day. Whether intentionally or not, the objective of the alliance is the replacement of the autonomy of the family with the authoritianism of the state. It may have started out with good intent (although even that is a subjective view, given that it was started by a religious crusader and a newspaper specializing in exposing "scandals") but it has wound up being a very powerful undemocratic agenda-setter. I presume that they are backers or even the instigators of latest anti-family initiative in the UK parliament which is the definition in Law, and criminalisation, of "Emotional Abuse".

Apr 21, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy Everett

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