Jarone Macklin-Page asks whether restraint of children in care can ever be justified
Is there ever truly a need for restraint? Or is restraint nothing more than the actions of someone who knows no better way to respond to the given circumstance?
I read recently on Community Care‘s CareSpace online forum about the incident of “Gus the bear”. Gus was one girl’s favourite toy in a children’s home but it was destroyed in another resident’s temper tantrum. Staff did nothing because they did not think the incident merited the use of restraint. The loss of the bear drove the girl to self-harm.
I lived in a children’s home in Britain between the ages 14 of and 17. The charity that ran it was reviewing at the time the way it approached the restraint of residents, with the intention of creating a safe working environment.
The primary purpose of the change was that staff could no longer be accused of manhandling or harming residents. On the other hand, these changes left a loophole in the system because staff members no longer had the right to defend themselves – and didn’t the residents know about it.
Many times, I saw residents trash the house and put themselves and others in danger, yet the staff could only give a monetary sanction.
In my family home violence was often the weapon of choice for controlling behavioural issues, so I would not for one second say restraint is always the answer. However, I would ask “what would you do if this were your own child?” Would you stand there and say “I’m not paid enough to deal with this”? Or would you intervene appropriately?
The people in your care are your children, and it is for you to teach examples of right and wrong. This being said, if workers do not know the difference themselves, they’re in the wrong job.
In my opinion staff don’t need more training. Parents are not trained yet most of the time they seem to be able to control a situation. Be a parent not a worker.
Jarone Macklin-Page, 21, is an actor and care leaver
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This article is published in the 30 September 2010 edition of Community Care under the headline “A loophole that left staff defenceless”