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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Access for Grandparents: Misunderstanding the Children Act 1989

Without exception, today's press reports that grandparents will acquire access rights to their grandchildren - access they quite often lose following the marital break-ups of their own children.

The Children Act 1989 had something else in mind. Children have rights, including right of access to their parents and, by extension, their grandparents. Such access is only to be denied them if it is clearly against their best interests.

It is because our way of thinking places so much emphasis on the rights of parents and so little on the rights of children that the UK performs disastrously on UNICEF's Index of Child Well-Being; among advanced Western nations, no country performs worse.

It is this privileging of adult rights always at the expense of children that explains, for example, why a heroin addicted woman can go on producing heroin addicted babies, year in and year out. The babies may well become subjects of Child Protection orders from the day they are born, and may well be removed from the mother at birth. But at any suggestion that the mother should be bribed into being sterilised, there will be horrified cries of "Eugenics!" and "Nazism". After all, what's a baby compared to a woman?

I think children should have right of access to their grandparents. Grandparents should be delighted if their grandchildren are keen to see them.

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