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To: Northern Ireland Government

Restrictive Intervention and seclusion of children and young people with additional needs; NI

Petition the government to end the everyday use of restraint and seclusion with children and young people!

Signatories can also help by emailing their MLA. Go to
to find and email your MLA. Ask them to support the motion Chris Lyttle, MLA and Department of Education Committee Chair, lodged on 10th July.

Why is this important?

Schools across Northern Ireland are entrusted with the learning and well being of some of the most vulnerable children into their care. The recent private member's motion tabled by Alliance Party's Mr Chris Little, Member of Local Assembly and Department of Education Committee Chair, highlights the need to discuss the use of unregulated restrictive interventions and seclusion applied to children with additional needs and learning disabilities across schools in Northern Ireland.

As a parent of a child who experienced unregulated restraint and seclusion in his previous special school, I would encourage you to consider the everyday harm caused by restraint and seclusion. I urge you to understand the importance of addressing this issue and to take action by asking your MLA to support the motion as an urgent non- political matter which affects all children and young people in receipt of education and support services.

The current policies for managing behaviours of concern in schools stem from disciplinary guidance which is used to deal with misbehaviour or truancy. In practice this means children with additional emotional and support needs routinely experience restrictive interventions that range from coercive practices, to restraint and seclusion (including use of dark rooms) to manage and control behaviours of concern, frequently described as "challenging behaviour".

Restrictive intervention are often applied without malice, as a result of training provided to schools and support staff. Such training is reportedly delivered to train teachers and support staff in how to intervene with children by the use of restraint or seclusion in a crisis. However, lack of adequate resourcing reportedly results in the use of 'crisis management' strategies on a daily basis - without regulation, recording or reporting to parents and families. This causes distress and everyday harm for our children and young people.

Deescalation training and low arousal approaches such as those outlined by Professor Andy McDonnell ( are examples of alternative strategies best suited to a child-friendly educational environment. These techniques offer an earlier intervention approach to support and reduce the need for hands on or confrontational and distressing physical interventions. Low arousal approaches to support prevent everyday harm. In contrast the reliance on the use of restraint or seclusion in health, social care and schools has been shown to traumatise children and young people who are often already vulnerable due to disabilities.

There have to date been several reports published on the significant physical injuries, emotional trauma, and in some tragic cases even death. Reports below from Ireland and UK:-


Scotland and England have been campaigning on the prevention of restraint and seclusion. Beth Morrison of PABSS/ICARS worked alongside the University of Warwick analysing case studies from many families where their children had experienced significant harm on a daily basis by the use of restraint or seclusion in the course of their education. The harrowing findings of this report was launched at the House of Lords by Lady Sheila Hollins in February.

The Department of Education have a Nurture Initiative to support the social and emotional needs of children with behaviour difficulties, which might otherwise create barriers in their education. We ask that restraint and seclusion be eradicated from all but last resort/crisis interventions. Instead of restrictive practices, ''nurturing'' children and young people with additional needs and learning disabilities seeks to provide a hands off, harm free environment.

Thank you for supporting children and young people with additional support needs and intellectual disabilities, ensuring a safer, supported education where every child can thrive.

Show your support on Twitter #EverydayHarm.

See the British Association of Social Work NI's Twitter post - in opposition to restrictive interventions and the supporting briefing paper for the private member's motion

"Difference is of the essence of humanity and therefore respect for that difference should be very very normal and very common" John Hume, Nobel Laureate.

Northern Ireland, UK

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2020-08-03 22:39:25 +0100

100 signatures reached

2020-08-03 19:05:03 +0100

50 signatures reached

2020-08-03 17:31:45 +0100

25 signatures reached

2020-08-03 16:40:11 +0100

10 signatures reached