Students with disabilities subjected to 'harmful' control measures at schools

From: The Daily Telegraph
December 24, 2012 12:00AM

SCHOOL teachers are training in martial arts to control disabled children who become violent under a raft of controversial behaviour management techniques slammed by disability groups as "abuse and neglect".

Children with disabilities are also being locked in small rooms or in "fenced areas" as punishment for bad behaviour at school while others are banned from classes unless they have taken "psychotropic medication", researchers claim.

One girl was even tied up by a bus driver on the way home from school because she was "difficult to manage", the national study by Southern Cross University reveals.

Sally Robinson of the university's Centre for Children and Young People found enclosures or pens were used in schools to deal with angry or unsettled students, outraging the peak body Children with Disability Australia which is investigating the cases.

Her paper, Enabling and Protecting: Abuse and Neglect of Children and Young People with Disabilities, paints a "disturbing picture of the marginality of children with disability who experience harm at the hands of others".

"There is a range of evidence to show that abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability is at times poorly recognised and sometimes perpetrated by people in a position to take action against it," she said.

"Too often abuse and neglect are treated as policy issues by schools and disability services but in reality they are crimes."

Parliamentary secretary for school education Senator Jacinta Collins said yesterday the government was working with states, territories and the private sector to "stamp out this type of behaviour".

"Any incidence of abuse or mistreatment of children in our schools is both shocking and unacceptable," she said.

Disability Standards for Education 2005 sought to ensure that children with a disability could access education on the same basis as other students, she said, but there was still more work to be done.

Children with Disability Australia executive officer Stephanie Gotlib said abuse and neglect of disabled children had long been an issue but no national data was available to show its prevalence.

She said: "For too long instances of abuse and neglect have been dismissed as isolated events or the result of staff who are 'bad apples', which has meant that opportunities to address the issues systemically are lost."

International research reveals children with disability have three times the increased risk of being abused compared to children without disability.


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