Interrogating Sanctioned Violence: A Survey of Parents/Guardians of Children with Disabilities about Restraint and Seclusion in Manitoba’s Schools
There is increasing concern that restraint and seclusion are being misused in schools, most often with students with disabilities. This issue is silent at the provincial level in Manitoba, with no regulation from the Ministry of Education. In order to examine the extent to which restraint and seclusion were being used in schools in Manitoba with children/youth with disabilities, an anonymous online survey involving a convenience sample of parents/guardians of children/ youth with disabilities was conducted. The 48-item questionnaire was disseminated through disability advocacy organizations in this province. Parents/guardians reported a high frequency of the use of restraint and seclusion, limited consent to the use of these practices, and an absence of written notification that they had occurred. Of great concern, some parents reported that their child was subjected to mechanical restraint and practices known to have a higher risk of causing death (e.g. supine and prone holds, being left in rooms that were locked from the outside etc.). A majority of parents reported their child had suffered trauma, and signs of physical injury also were noted. The results of this study indicate that restraint and seclusion are being misused as behaviour management techniques, especially with students with disabilities. These practices contravene Canada’s commitment to international standards regarding the rights of children and youth with disabilities, and change is required. The implementation of regulatory standards, legitimizing the voice of parents of children and youth with disabilities, and training for educators in positive behaviour interventions and supports are proposed.
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