Charity welcomes government pledge on restraining children

In safe hands - scotland street 030 original (1)

Enable Scotland’s In Safe Hands campaign leads to action over “shameful” practice. 

17th December 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

A charity has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to develop stronger guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

Enable Scotland has been lobbying for the move after a report found 2,674 incidents of restraint and seclusion relating to 386 children were recorded by 22 local authorities in 2017/18.

One parent told the charity how a young girl was regularly subjected to seclusion and restraint at school. On one occasion she was locked in a “safe space” for 45 minutes, where she soiled herself.

Another parent said that from the age of five her son was restrained regularly at school and was kept in a cloakroom by a teacher who held the door closed because he would not put his shoes on.

Following the report’s publication, Enable Scotland branded the practice “our collective shame” and said restraining children puts them at risk of physical and psychological harm while also denying them their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The charity launched a campaign – In Safe Hands – to grow awareness of the issue, and has now helped secure a pledge from the Scottish Government to introduce new guidance for teaching staff and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion wherever possible.

Announcing the decision, deputy first minister John Swinney said: “The unlawful use of physical intervention and seclusion is completely unacceptable, and I want to do everything I can to prevent it from happening.

“That is why I have agreed to introduce new national human rights-based guidance to ensure that for the rare occasions where it is used, it is used lawfully and ensures that children’s rights are protected.”

The decision has been welcomed by Enable Scotland, as well as the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Theresa Shearer, Enable Scotland Group CEO, said: “In the 21st century, every child should go to school knowing they are safe from physical and psychological harm. They should feel welcome, listened to and be treated with respect from the moment they enter the school gates. To our collective shame, this is not the case for every child in Scotland. 

“On behalf of each and every one of them, we are today delighted that the cabinet secretary has made the right decision to implement new guidance, embedded in human rights principles.

“There is more to be done to bring the guidance to life and make sure that the right support, regulation and training is in place for staff – but this guidance is a great step forward, and we congratulate the Scottish Government on doing the right thing.”

Enable also welcomed the announcement that an additional £15 million of public money would be invested in additional support for learning assistants to support children with learning disabilities, autism or mental health issues.