For the first time ever, new guidelines are set to recognise that the lack of a basic sense of right and wrong in children is a sign of poor parenting, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Ministers are also preparing to tear up more than 700 pages of “pointless” child protection guidance in order to free social workers from paper work and “tick-box” rules.
A series of targets and prescriptive national guidelines are set to be abolished in a move that ministers hope will free social workers, doctors, police and other professionals to do their jobs more easily.
The moves follow a major review of the child protection system set up after the Baby P scandal in which 17-month-old Peter Connelly was tortured to death under the noses of a social workers, police and doctors.
Last year Prof Eileen Munro, an expert in social policy at the London School of Economics, called for a shift in “mindset” allowing social workers to think for themselves about the best interests of children rather than be tied by centrally set targets and guidelines.
Tim Loughton, the Children’s Minster, said that the existing regulations had failed to save children such as Baby P while leaving social workers “addicted” to rules rather than being free to think for themselves.
He added that dense Government documents in the past had been based on the “con” that the risk from “evil” people could be eliminated by ever more regulation.
Mr Loughton is publishing new guidelines, which run to just 68 pages – instead of 714 – for consultation today.
The guidelines are set to outline basic principles to take into account rather than setting out a series of rules about what social workers must do at each stage of the process of assessing the risk to children.
Among questions the guidance says social workers should consider when assessing people’s “parenting capacity” are whether children are being taught "boundaries".
This means helping children “develop an internal model of moral values and conscience and social behaviour”, the new guidelines say.
“This is [about] children knowing the difference between right and wrong and learning that from their parents which is a very un-trendy, old concept which I think might have its day again," said Mr Loughton.
“We shouldn’t shy away from saying what is right and what is wrong.”
He cited the example of the case of the two brothers in Edlington, South Yorks, who kidnapped and tortured two other boys and the “horrendous” example set by their father.
“Clearly those children had been brought up in an environment where clearly the father had no scruples or boundaries between what is right and wrong and he absolutely engendered that in his sons,” he said.
“Most parents and certainly all good parents want to do the right thing by their child but they want their child to know where the boundaries are and what is the right side if the boundary and what is the wrong side of the boundary.
“This isn’t about some moral code but it’s actually about teaching a child that there is a difference between what’s right and what’s wrong – those boundaries will be different for different types of people.
“But the very fact that you will have a discussion, you have an empathetic relationship with a child to teach them what is acceptable and what is not acceptable is about good parenting in my view.
“And although it is not politically correct in certain circles to have moral lessons within schools absolutely that must be about what constitutes good parenting, to make sure your kids are doing the right things.”