Use of physical restraint on children in care part of “a failed system”

Speaking at a special event organised by the Hope Instead of Handcuffs campaign, Leon Feinstein, Professor of Education and Children’s Social Care at the University of Oxford said: “The problems that we see in the treatment of looked after children in transit are part of a failed system.” 

“You can address the specific issue of restraint […] but unless the wider issues of the treatment, relationships and experiences of those children, as well as the issue of funding, is not addressed you won’t get very far.” 

Professor Feinstein was speaking as part of a panel on the worryingly prevalent, but little known, issue of the use of physical restraint on children in care. The roundtable event was chaired by Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers Steve McCabe MP, and also featured guest speakers Emily Aklan, leader of the Hope Instead of Handcuffs Campaign which is shining a light on the use of handcuffs and restraint on vulnerable children; investigative journalist Lucy Johnston Social Affairs & Health Editor at the Sunday Express; and author and social campaigner Dr Phil Frampton 

Dr Phil Frampton, a care leaver himself said: “The most important intervention we can do for children in transit is to focus on developing their sense of identity and self-esteem […] In care that takes a battering, from the very fact that we are in care, because we are not just children we are ‘othered’ children.” 

Speaking after the event, leader of the campaign and CEO of Serenity Welfare, Emily Aklan said: 

“Restraint against children has no place in modern care settings. We know from our work with young people that handcuffs are all too frequently used as a substitute for proper de-escalation and mentoring techniques, despite the fact that these children have not committed nor have been accused of committing any crime. 

“Our hope is that by shining a light on this issue, the government will realise that vulnerable children are being mistreated and something has to be done.” 

The full panel discussion can be viewed online here. 

More about social care can be found here.

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