B.C. school discipline has gone as far as locking kids in seclusion rooms, including closets and stairwells, a new report from special needs advocates alleges.
"Stop Hurting Kids," a joint report by Inclusion BC and the Family Research Institute, calls on the province to enact legislation that would stop the practice of seclusion or restraint in schools after collecting stories from parents whose children had been disciplined.
Forms of restraint cited in the report include wrestling holds, tying wheelchair straps around legs and two adults twisting arms behind a student's back.
The report also includes a picture of a "seclusion room" with mats on the floor and very little else at New Westminster Secondary School.
The report included accounts from parents who said their kids had been restrained or secluded, many of whom reported physical injury or obvious pain during restraint.
Faith Bodnar, executive director of Inclusion BC, told CTV News that many parents didn't know that such practices were being used on their children.
"Who's tracking this? How come parents don't know that these things are happening to their children?" she said.
Wendy Harris, the past chair of New Westminster's District Advisory Council, said parents had complained to her about the seclusion rooms, which are known as "safe rooms," in a number of schools.
"I do know that children as young as Grade 2 are being put into these," she said. "I was horrified, quite frankly."
Michael Ewen, chair of School District No. 40 (New Westminster), confirmed that seclusion rooms are being used but said students are not being forced or locked inside them, or being left in them for hours per day.
He admitted, however, that the practice had been abused last year.
Victoria's Adrianne Wicks said her daughter Savannah, who has mild autism and suffers from seizures, spent much of her Grade 2 year alone, CBC News reported.
"The teacher held a vote in the classroom and she was in essence, voted out of her class ... and the teacher then grabbed her by the arm and dragged her across to the resource room," she said.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark told reporters on Thursday that the province is looking into whether there should be a policy around seclusion rooms.
"I'm really concerned about some of the reports that have come out," she said.
- With files from The Canadian Press
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