A report last fall decried the use of restraints and seclusion to discipline young students in B.C. schools. Published by Inclusion BC, the report called for an end to such practices, saying all children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Next month, the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) will ask BCCPAC to also take a tough stance on the issue. In a resolution to be debated at BCCPAC’s 2014 annual general meeting in Richmond, the VCPAC says the provincial body should advocate for:
– A ban on the use of seclusion or isolation in public schools.
– Limits on the use of restraints to situations where someone’s safety is at imminent risk.
The VCPAC also wants BCCPAC to lobby for policy changes to ensure that when restraints are used, parents are informed as soon as possible and a detailed report is placed in the student’s file.
“When a student has difficulty in the school environment, parents need to be involved,” VCPAC says in a supporting statement. “This not only provides accountability for the education system but it also frequently leads to better solutions to meet the needs of the student.”
Inclusion BC published its report in November after a survey of parents suggested systemic use of restraints and seclusion in some schools. Restraint is described as the use of physical procedures or mechanical devices to limit freedom of movement; seclusion is the placement of a child in an isolated area (such as a locked room or a closet) for an extended time and preventing exit.
Premier Christy Clark promised an investigation, telling reporters: “We all want to know that when our kids go to school, they’re treated with real dignity.” She said her government would meet with district officials, teachers and parents to determine if provincial policy is necessary to govern such practices.
There has been no public comment from government since.
Faith Bodnar, Inclusion BC’s executive director, told me her organization is continuing efforts to have the issue addressed, including working with the Education Ministry and a small group of stakeholders to develop guidelines for public and independent schools.
Of the province’s 60 school districts, only 16 have policies governing the use restraint and seclusion, she noted.
In addition, Inclusion BC is seeking an independent inquiry into specific allegations noted in its Stop Hurting Kids report. “Our overarching goal remains to ban the use of seclusion and restraint in B.C. schools,” Bodnar added.