Stop harming our children

by Beth Morrison

Stop harming our children

by Beth Morrison
Beth Morrison
Case Owner
I am Calums mummy, that is my son you've just seen in the video. I have passionately campaigned against the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion for many years. Please help us make it stop.
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Beth Morrison
Case Owner
I am Calums mummy, that is my son you've just seen in the video. I have passionately campaigned against the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion for many years. Please help us make it stop.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: July 11, 2019

We've had a meeting with The DfE in Westminster!

Hi everyone!

The families went to meet officials from the Department of Education in Westminster on Tuesday and were able to tell their stories.

2 weeks ago, after 5 years of waiting, The UK Governme...

Read more

Help us to stop children being hurt in schools by restraint and other “behaviour management” techniques

Children are being hurt every day in educational settings, following the use of restraint by staff who are operating within a system which we believe doesn’t properly protect and uphold their human rights.

My son Calum was just 11 years old when he was restrained at school for refusing to get off a bike he was riding in the gym hall. He was restrained by four staff and held face-down on the floor. Staff only released him when he wet himself. I was horrified when I found out about this, and began to look for other parents in the same position as me, to catalogue their experiences. So far, I have spoken to the parents of 682 children who have experienced restraint. Not one of these children is neurotypical - they all have disabilities. Some of the children who have been affected by the use of restraint were younger than 5, (the youngest was only 2 years old) and a quarter of those I interviewed were just 6 years old.

The injuries these children sustained included carpet burns, sometimes even to their faces where they were forced face down, as well as bruises – often too many to count on a single child. And this doesn’t even begin to speak of the psychological injuries and trauma that use of these procedures with no framework in place are causing.

We are therefore raising funds to pursue a judicial review to hold the Secretary of State for Education to account for not having an effective legal or policy framework on the use of restraint, seclusion and restrictive practices in schools, so that we change the status quo. By supporting us you will help us to make educational environments safe for our children. Please contribute now, and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.

Parents Lucy, Julie and Becky, whose children have all been affected by use of restraint in educational settings, wanted to share their stories with you, to explain why this is such an important issue that needs to be addressed.

An open letter on behalf of three parents, Lucy, Julie & Becky:

“As parents of children with complex needs, we know only too well how additionally vulnerable some children can be. When placing our children in a school, we had presumed that suitable and sufficient protections would be in place. We believe, to our children’s cost, that this was not the case.

Our children, like many of their peers, live with a range of conditions and diagnoses that mean they often struggle to understand, and to cope with the demands of everyday life. Sometimes in response to the stress they feel, or in an attempt to communicate how they feel, they engage in what are too quickly labelled ‘behaviours of concern’, ‘challenging behaviours’, ‘disruptive’ or even ‘violent’ behaviours. Staff are currently free to use unregulated and uncontrolled measures to ‘manage’ these behaviours and to bring these children ‘under control’.

Children in distress need care and understanding, not physical force imposed on them by adults far bigger and stronger than themselves. These interventions can cause huge distress, pain and injury (Daily Record, 2018, BBC, 2017), and have even caused death (Aiken et al, 2011, DRW, 2008, Nunno et al, 2006)." 

"Use of such interventions have changed the lives of our own children forever. They have been injured and become traumatised. This is not care. We believe the status quo must change and we need your help to bring about that change.”


What we want to do and how you can help 

We intend to call the Secretary of State for Education to account for his fundamental failure to protect vulnerable children from harm, and we need your support to do this.

We are calling for a judicial review on the basis we believe the Secretary of State has failed to put in place an effective legal / policy framework to cover the use of restraint and seclusion for children, and in fact all restrictive practices in schools. The primary issues are:

  • The failure to ensure that interferences with children’s Article 8 rights are ‘in accordance with the law’ and therefore justified
  • A breach of Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, on the basis that (a) children are treated differently than adults in this regard (there is a clear legal / policy framework for adults) and (b) the absence of an effective framework for children indirectly discriminates against disabled children by comparison with their typically developing peers. We believe this amounts to both age and disability discrimination.

We want to press the Secretary of State to meet his obligations under the Human Rights Act, to ensure children are:

  • Safe from needless distress and trauma
  • Safe from unnecessary discomfort and pain
  • Safe from injury and other risks associated with restraint and restrictive practices

We are fundraising to instruct a specialist barrister to advise us on the merits of bringing a legal challenge against the Secretary of State and to enable our legal team to gather evidence for bringing a Judicial Review. By donating to and supporting this judicial review you will help us to make educational environments are safe, and nurturing for our children.

Please pledge your support now.


Our children and their experiences of restrictive practices

Ellis

Lucy (Mum): “My son Ellis is 13. He has ASD (Autism) SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) combined. He started a new specialist school last year. In three months he was physically restrained over 30 times… This resulted in bruising on his ankles, face, ears, neck, wrists, shoulder blades and back. He’s now terrified of school.

One night, my sons eye was swollen, he told us his head had been slammed into a whiteboard during a restraint… Why were staff grabbing hold of him? They know he has a sensory processing disorder. Touching him can send him into a state of hyperarousal which causes his distress to sky-rocket. So why were they restraining him? It’s wrong.

As a parent I feel traumatised. I carry a huge amount of guilt that I left him with people who were supposed to nurture him but in actual fact traumatised him. The Educational psychologist that saw him told us that he can’t be placed in any provision where they use restraint as it would be far too traumatising for him.

I am living in hell… I can’t work, I can’t study… I’m living on the edge. I’ve now been prescribed beta-blockers. I keep having nightmares and hear Ellis calling for me. Screaming for his mum. The thing I keep going back to is that all of this was, and is, avoidable. There is so much you can do to support him, and the school don’t seem to do any of this. Restraint is the answer that they learn on a course somewhere. Where are the protections for my son? And for all those other children who struggle like he does.”

Jaydan

Julie (Mum) “My son Jaydan is now 10 years old. He has ADHD, Autism and sensory difficulties. When he was at his first mainstream school, I discovered he was being put in a room with just a chair, a small table and nothing else. It was a punishment for not conforming to the expected behavioural standard. I moved Jaydan to another mainstream school that I was assured would be more supportive and caring. I spoke with the headteacher and she told me she had worked with special needs children previously for over 20 years so I felt relieved. But this relief was short lived. He was restrained and put in isolation on his first day at the school.

I home schooled Jaydan for a while and applied for him to be statemented. I requested that he attend a specialist school, thinking they would be more nurturing and understanding of his needs. In no time at all I discovered that even in specialist provision the same approaches were being taken, and he was being repeatedly restrained and put in isolation, even though they were aware that restraint was causing his immense distress. The last time he was restrained I reported it to the police. He has over 40 bruises. But I was told that due to the state of current legislation the CPS would not take any further action.

What these schools have done, and what the education system has allowed, has affected Jaydan enormously. Its taken a huge toll on his mental health. Jaydan told a social worker that he wanted to die, that he also had been thinking of different ways of how to kill himself.

I’ve had to listen to my child beg me to make him better so that he could be a good boy, he did not know what he was doing wrong and he so desperately wanted to make the teachers happy but he never could achieve it. He was no longer the happy child I knew, no longer the child that wanted to learn. He would cry every night that he hated his life. This is why I am committed to making change. This case has the power to protect children in a way my son wasn’t.”


Abi

Becky (Mum) “My daughter Abi is 15 now. She was born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This means she struggles to understand various concepts, and has difficulty with impulse control. She is a beautiful girl who has had some great educational provision. As she has grown and her needs have changed we moved her to more specialist provision. We ended up at a school that, on paper at least, was everything we needed for Abi including provision of specialist mental health support. Although what was promised and what materialised were, we believe,  two very different things.

Restraint seemed to be a frequently used method of managing behaviour. According to the school's figures they recorded 113 incidents with Abi just in the last academic year, 81 of which included restraint. The others were recorded as non RPI's including guides. 81 of the holds they used (sometimes they used multiple holds in 1 incident) were to ground, either fully to ground or sitting on the ground. According to their figures they used a full ground shield 9 times in the year.  I now know how dangerous this can be. And what I can’t get beyond is that, in our opinion, there was no need for her to be restrained. No need at all if the right supports had been put in place. Abi is actively involved in our community and is never restrained outside of education and after we took her out of the school we home educated her with the help of a fabulous tutor. Abi was stressed by the demands intrinsic to having to adapt to the learning process, but we never had to resort to restraint to manage it.

Abi started to self-injure when at school, she also threatened to run in front of cars or throw herself down flights of stairs. This has broken my heart and traumatised us as a family. I believe Abi was labelled as a ‘bad’ child, and in my eyes was punished physically for not managing in the school environment, an environment the staff created. She was struggling, she was unable to cope with what was happening to her, she was terrified and she needed help, not to be restrained. It shouldn’t be down to luck that a parent places their child in a caring and careful educational environment. It should be the default position. Things must change or the awful treatment will continue and children will carry on being traumatised.”

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Update 5

Beth Morrison

July 11, 2019

We've had a meeting with The DfE in Westminster!

Hi everyone!

The families went to meet officials from the Department of Education in Westminster on Tuesday and were able to tell their stories.

2 weeks ago, after 5 years of waiting, The UK Government published the new guidance on the use of Restrictive Practice in schools. 

We know that if it was not for the pending legal action taken by our families, this guidance would not have been published right now, although there were some good points, we deem it inadequate and have identified a number of good grounds of challenge and will be looking to take the Department for Education to court unless they recognise and agree to substantively address our concerns raised. 

We therefore need to raise an additional sum of money to cover the extra legal work required due to the new guidance.

We are not going away. We do not want what happened to our children to happen to any other child.

Please help us raise our new target of £7500 (we are nearly there) so we can keep our disabled children safe by sharing our page with your friends and family, any social media groups you belong to. It was also be great if you could share the Guardian Article too as it was so powerful. 

Thank you all for your messages and donations, we are so grateful to each and every one of you.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/06/he-was-covered-in-bruises-the-vulnerable-children-being-harmed-in-special-schools

Beth



Update 4

Beth Morrison

July 6, 2019

We are in the Guardian Magazine today!

Heartfelt thanks for all of your pledges so far. 

Please have a look on today's Guardian Magazine for our stories and you will understand why we need to make sure our children are safe in school. 

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/06/he-was-covered-in-bruises-the-vulnerable-children-being-harmed-in-special-schools

Update 3

Beth Morrison

July 6, 2019

We've been to Westminster today!

Today we had a meeting with the Department of Education in Westminster.

The three families told their stories and although it was really hard reliving their child's experiences they were really brave and spoke with dignity.

We also met with our legal team and we will update everyone on the outcome of these meetings very soon.

Please keep sharing our page,  we are very close to reaching our target and would really appreciate a little more help if at all possible.

Thank you 

Update 2

Beth Morrison

March 7, 2019

Just over 1 week to go!

We really need as many people as possible to share and pledge so we can reach our target. Theres just over a week to go, and we need to reach that target!

Thankyou

Update 1

Beth Morrison

Feb. 26, 2019

We need your help!

We have only 18 days left to raise the money we need.

This isn't only about the 3 children whose stories are written here, this is for ALL children with a disability or additional support needs. We must make this stop.

Please pledge and share with friends, families and groups everywhere and help us keep our children safe from harm in schools.

Thank you.



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