Stop Hurting Kids II: BC Urged to Stop Systemic Abuse of Restraint & Seclusion in Schools

Update: Following extensive media coverage and discussion on social media, the Minister of Education Hon. Rob Fleming responded to Inclusion BC’s report on the use of restraints and seclusion in BC Schools. The Minister spoke to the Times Colonist in May:

“We’re going to act on this really quickly,” Fleming told reporters at the B.C. legislature. “I can’t speak for why the previous government did not have a lot to show for the last five years. My first reaction was the 2018 report is very similar to 2013.”

The BC Teachers Federation also responded to the report.

Inclusion BC has spoken with Ministry officials and has requested a meeting with the Minister.


New Westminster, BC, May 16, 2018: Based on disturbing findings in a new report that found continuing and systemic use of restraint and seclusion in schools, Inclusion BC is calling for immediate provincial action to protect students with special needs from abuse.

The report, Stop Hurting Kids II: Restraint & Seclusion in BC Schools, cited the results of a provincial survey in which parents and guardians from across the province described ongoing, repeated and systemic use of restraint and seclusion to address student behaviour in school. The survey showed BC’s voluntary guidelines have failed to curtail such practices, with parents reporting disturbing incidents and patterns of conduct, inadequate staff training and support, and a systemic lack of oversight and accountability.

“We know that BC educators want to provide safe, inclusive and supportive classrooms that welcome all students,” said Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar. “But too many BC students with special needs are still being injured and traumatized by abusive, inappropriate and outdated practices that have no place in a modern education system.”

Inclusion BC blames aversive practices on the lack of regulatory oversight, unclear standards, and inadequate supports and training.

In 2013, we first reported shocking details on the widespread use of restraint and seclusion in BC schools. These findings led to the adoption of new provincial guidelines in 2015, encouraging school boards to develop policies controlling such practices, to strengthen accountability and to train staff in non-violent positive behaviour supports. However, these 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 fact that our new survey, 5 years later, reports incidents as disturbing and widespread as the first is extremely distressing.” Bodnar said. “These practices are unacceptable in other non-school settings and the same standard should apply in our schools.”

“We desperately 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.”

The findings in both reports paint a deeply troubling picture of the trauma experienced by too many students with special needs in BC schools.  Inclusion BC is committed to working with the Ministry of Education, educators and parents in developing a comprehensive strategy that ensures BC schools are safe places for all BC students.


  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.

Media Contacts:

Faith Bodnar
Inclusion BC Executive Director

Danielle Kelliher
Inclusion BC Communications Director
More info:

Our approach to advocacy is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which recognizes the full citizenship and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kerridan Dougan, Advocate

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