Press release

Children tell us: train staff so they don't need to use restraint

Today the Office of the Children’s Rights Director has published a report called Children’s views on restraint.


Children’s Rights Director Roger Morgan has not added his views to the report, he has used direct quotes from the 94 children he and his team spoke to as part of the consultation. Overall children agreed that restraint should only be used as a last resort. Every group said staff should always try to calm things down before things get too bad that restraint is needed.

Children’s Rights Director, Roger Morgan said:

A common theme emerging from discussions included children warning that restraint itself can ‘wind people up’ and thereby pose the risk of making things worse rather than improving behaviour. One discussion group told us that in their experience staff did not want to restrain children and where staff had been properly trained, less restraint happened because training gave staff skills in calming children down. Importantly though, children were clear that there are times when – rarely - restraint is necessary, to prevent someone getting injured, or to prevent property getting seriously damaged.

When asked what could trigger the need for using restraint the two most common reasons were damaging property and hitting someone. Other reasons included trying to cause a riot, trying to throw a chair, trying to use a knife to stab someone, losing their temper, trying to run away and refusing to go to school.

When children were asked what rules should be imposed on uses of restraint they said, the most important thing was to let children calm down first, before using restraint. They also advised to stop restraint if it is becoming too painful and not use restraint for too long and it interferes with someone’s breathing.

Children also expressed that staff should know whether a child has been sexually abused and take this into account when deciding whether to use restraint or not.

All our groups agreed that restraint shouldn’t be used on disabled children or young people with medical issues such as asthma and children who have been sexually abused.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

  2. The Office of the Children’s Rights Director is currently hosted by Ofsted, but by statute works independently to ascertain and report the views of children in care, receiving social care services, or living away from home in residential education. It also advises on children’s righs and welfare, and carries out individual casework with children within the Children’s Rights Director’s remit.

  3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

Published 4 December 2012