Children in BC are at risk of being injured and traumatized by the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. These procedures are proven to produce severe trauma and physical harm and are experienced disproportionately by children with special needs.

The use of restraint and seclusion in BC schools was detailed in a 2013 report by inclusion BC and the Family Support Institute and in a recent 2017 follow up report.

Both reports shared the results of two provincial surveys completed by parents and guardians across BC. The findings were disturbing.

The initial 2013 report led to new provincial guidelines in 2015. These guidelines, from the Ministry of Education, encouraged school boards to develop policies to control the use of restraints and seclusion. They were also meant to strengthen accountability and to train staff in non-violent positive behaviour supports.

But the guidelines were voluntary.

In 2017, after finding that only one in three BC school boards had adopted policies on restraint and seclusion, Inclusion BC launched a follow-up provincial survey asking families about their children’s experiences in the 2016/17 school year.

The 2017 survey showed that the voluntary guidelines have failed to protect children from restraint and seclusion. The findings in both reports paint a deeply troubling picture of the trauma experienced by too many students with special needs in BC schools.

What we Need Now

We know that educators want to provide safe, inclusive and supportive classrooms. For this to happen we need regulatory oversight, clear standards and supports and training.

We need provincial leadership that directs all school boards to have up-to-date policies, with requirements to report all incidents of the use of seclusion and restraint and for all those working with students with special needs to have training in positive behaviour support.

Recommendations:

1. Provincial prohibition on the use of restraint and seclusion, except in very limited and specific situations, with all school boards required to adopt policies and procedures to demonstrate compliance.

2. School incident reporting requirements to strengthen accountability, inform parents and trigger automatic reviews to ensure that positive behaviour support plans and staff training are in place.

3. Provincial support for training in positive behaviour supports and conflict de-escalation for teachers, support staff, administrators and district staff.