Children in B.C. 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 disabilities and additional support needs.
Both reports shared the results of two provincial surveys completed by parents and guardians across B.C. 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 B.C. 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 disabilities and additional support needs in B.C. schools.
Inclusion BC continued to follow up our earlier work on stopping restraint and seclusion. All school districts were requested by the Ministry to have policies in place based upon the 2015 Provincial Guidelines on the use of restraint and seclusion.
In 2019 we undertook a review to assess district compliance with this directive and found that:
- As of November 2019, 56 of 60 school districts have adopted a policy on the use of restraint and seclusion.
- Four school districts had a draft policy or were in the approval process.
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 disabilities and additional support needs to have training in positive behaviour support.
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.