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Children’s Commissioner warns Scottish Government is in breach of children’s human rights on the use of restraint in schools


National statutory guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion of children in schools must be introduced as a matter of urgency by the Scottish Government said the Children’s Commissioner Bruce Adamson at the Scottish Parliament today.

Giving evidence to the Public Petitions Committee, the Commissioner warned that without robust national guidance the Scottish Government is in breach of its human rights obligations to children.   

Last year his office published an investigation which found that use of restraint and seclusion on pupils across Scotland is largely unmonitored, with glaring inconsistencies across local authority areas.

The petition for national guidance and monitoring the support and care for disabled children in all educational settings has been lodged by Beth Morrison, a mother who campaigns for disabled children’s rights following her son’s experience of restraint and seclusion at school.

This comes in the same week as ENABLE Scotland’s campaign ‘In Safe Hands’ was launched. The campaign also calls on the Scottish Government to address the practice of restraint and seclusion to ensure the school environment is a safe place for all children.

The EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union called for national guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools at its AGM in June 2019.

Giving evidence alongside Beth Morrison, the Commissioner was clear that the legal responsibility for protecting children from human rights violations in education rests with the Scottish Government.

 Commissioner, Bruce Adamson said:

“All children have the right to feel safe. They have a right to education, to dignity, to bodily integrity, and to be protected from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. These rights are being violated for children who are subjected to restraint and seclusion at school as a means of behaviour management.”

“Despite strong recommendations from our investigation last year, the Scottish Government has yet to commit to introducing robust human rights-based national guidance along with a process for monitoring incidents of restraint and seclusion.

“A lack of robust and effective guidance creates a dangerous gap and it is unacceptable that staff are being left without adequate training and support, increasing the likelihood of children being subjected to restraint and seclusion.”


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