"Care experts and parents of some of the country's most vulnerable children are fighting for new rules on restraining children with special needs in Scottish schools. The Scottish government is now being petitioned to draft new national guidelines following incidences in schools of "prone restraint, inappropriate wheelchair restraint and children being kept in seclusion". Scotland's Commissioner for Children supports the petition."
"For the children, many of whom have severe communication difficulties, this can be highly distressing and traumatic. One of the parents behind the petition is a mother whose own child, aged 11, was held face down on the floor by four adults at his school in such a way that caused symptoms consistent with positional asphyxia, and left him, she alleges, with over sixty bruises."
"The campaigners are also calling for the government to appoint a specific agency to monitor and evaluate the care of vulnerable children with learning disabilities and other special needs in schools. Beth Morrison, one of the parents who lodged the petition, said inspectors monitor education, but asked, "Who is inspecting the care?"
"The petition coincides with ongoing investigations into Kingspark school in Dundee, where eleven families have lodged complaints, alleging their children had been physically abused, neglected, or illegally restrained, and listed a shocking catalogue of unexplained injuries. "
"A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: "Updated guidance on the use of physical restraint was published in 2013 and can be applied in all settings, including schools." However, the document they direct people to, Holding Safely, is, Paterson believes, inadequate. "It was produced," he said, "for residential childcare and geared towards children with emotional behavioural disorders - a different population from those with severe complex global learning difficulties. "
Calum`s mum explains:
"This is the heartbreaking reality of what happens behind closed doors in some of our schools. There is some really good care out there. Calum was removed from Kingspark and now attends an excellent mainstream school with support base in Angus who do not use restraint and instead use positive behaviour support, patience and a lot of understanding. He is thriving now- thanks to brilliant staff who care. The stories Vicky Allan reported in the article were just a few of so many. Our special children are not criminals, yet they appear to have less rights and are treated worse than they would be in prisons."
"One parent was told by a staff member who used restraint on her 10 year old daughter "What's your problem? They use it in Broadmoor"
"Notice how none of the staff responsible for these incidents were ever held accountable? In my opinion it is legalised child abuse! Many disabled children struggle to have their needs met because many cannot communicate. How else can they tell someone "I am tired/ hungry/in pain/I can't cope"? if they can't speak they have to resort to behaviour. It`s not easy but there are ways of using proactive strategies rather than reactive responses which hurt and injure our children."
Kingspark in Dundee is not the only school to have had complaints around restraint.