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Restraint and Seclusion in BC Schools Must be Banned

Summary: 
Two years after a shocking report revealed the widespread use of restraint and seclusion in BC schools, the BC Government has failed to fulfill their promise to protect students with special needs.
Restraint and Seclusion in BC Schools Must be Banned

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Westminster, B.C.; October 7, 2015 – Two years after a shocking report revealed the widespread use of restraint and seclusion in BC schools, the BC Government has failed to fulfill their promise to protect students with special needs.

Inclusion BC continues to hear from families whose children are being restrained and secluded in schools and is calling for a ban on its use through legislation and a targeted plan of action to prevent the serious and egregious harm done to students. 

Responding to the initial report, called “Stop Hurting Kids: Restraint and Seclusion in BC Schools,” BC Premier Christy Clark promised in November 2013 to conduct an investigation into the issue. The BC Ministry of Education began developing guidelines in early 2014 to guide the development of policies at a district level. Those guidelines have yet to be been finalized and there are still no requirements from the Ministry for school districts to track and report on the use of seclusion rooms.

The lack of a strong leadership position calling for an end to these practices is indicative of a resounding lack of commitment to keeping the most vulnerable students safe. “Clearly we are in desperate need of a strong position by our Ministry of Education. Even definitions of what is a time out, a quiet room or a de-escalation room varies greatly as does the use of such rooms," states Faith Bodnar, Inclusion BC Executive Director.

The BC Minister of Education stated this week that the draft guidelines are meant to ensure that teachers are “appropriately using these rooms… for safety purposes.” The recent CTV news report of a seven year-old Salmon Arm student with Down syndrome being locked in a room for misbehaving shows that these rooms are not being used appropriately or for safety purposes and voluntary guidelines will not prevent this in the future. While the guidelines have not been officially distributed to schools, one school district has used wording from the guidelines in a policy that sanctioned and rationalized the use of restraints and seclusion, further reinforcing the need for strict regulations and not voluntary guidelines. 

Bodnar adds, “These are not safety rooms or quiet rooms. They are being used systematically to punish and isolate children and will continue to be used this way until legislation is enacted to ban the practice. These rooms and aversive practices must not be part of the routine behaviour management strategies in our schools. We know how to do better. We have the evidence, we have the research. This is about lack of leadership and a failure to do what’s necessary to protect vulnerable students in BC.” 

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Restraint is the use of physical procedures or mechanical devices to limit freedom of movement, and seclusion is placement in an isolated area for an extended time and prevention from leaving that area.


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