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The use of force with children and young people is an emotive subject. It is a subject fraught with controversy and at times, built on myth and misinterpretation. This in itself gives rise to the paradox that exists in our schools, care homes and secure establishments, where the very systems and policies put in place to protect children by well-meaning adults can sometimes expose the child to even greater risk.
It's fair to say that children and young people are among some of the most vulnerable in our society and the past enquiries that uncovered the large scale abuse of children in residential care illustrated this fact clearly. However, within this vulnerable sector are also some of the most violent and this is something we also need to consider when tasking staff with their control and safety, particularly when determining any use of physical force policy for either the protection of children or the staff employed to look after them.
For example, many staff in some agencies believe that they are not allowed to use physical force to prevent a child who may be about to abscond as they believe that this is in some way 'against the law', yet the very same agency will contact the police who will, if necessary, use lawful force to bring the child back to the place he or she has absconded from.
Many staff use only restraint techniques that are based solely on the use of 'non pain-compliance' techniques commonly known as 'non-harmful methods of control' because they have been led to believe that any technique that causes discomfort or pain is 'against the law'.
School staff now have lawful authority to stop and search pupils for knives and other forms of weapons, remove the weapon, and, if necessary, use physical force to do so. Remember Philip Lawrence who was stabbed to death outside the gates of his school in December 1995 when he went to the aid of a pupil who was being attacked by a gang? Remember Stephen Lawrence the young teenager stabbed to death and Damilola Taylor who was left to die in a stair well.
Ask the police to deal with a knife incident and you will get either an armed response unit, officers armed with tazers, or as a minimal response, a support unit equipped with body armour, batons, cs-spray, handcuffs and shields. So why is it perceived that it is apparently 'against the law' for some staff to use force, or more restrictive techniques, when it is lawful for other members of the public (for example, a member of public who is a constable) to do so?
These questions give rise to the paradox that exists in our society today, where the very systems and policies put in place to protect children by well-meaning adults could actually be placing the child, other children, and indeed the staff member, at an increased risk of harm.
Children and young people are among some of the most vulnerable in our society. However, within this vulnerable sector are also some of the most violent and this is something we also need to consider when tasking staff with their control and safety.
This book delves into the 'taboo' that is the intentional use of pain when attempting to restrain a child / young person and we will then place an argument at your feet - that in certain circumstances the use of pain is not only acceptable but also, in some circumstances, absolutely necessary if we are to act in the best interests of the child and others, including the staff employed to care for them.
This book also provides some analysis of how these issues may be addressed in policy and practice. It aims, therefore, to dispel myths and misunderstandings that exist by looking squarely at the facts, so that you will be better informed and more competent in carrying out your professional duties, and be better placed to achieve the ultimate aim, the protection of children and young people in our care. This book will also explore how the use of physical restraint should be planned and considered by responsible managers and appointed agents of the Government.
In essence, this book aims to highlight some of the key issues in relation to physical interventions with children and young people as well as providing a resource and reference point for practitioners.
However, even today, in the minds of many professionals, such as child protection social workers, there is no such thing as the reasonable use of force. Force per se is always considered unreasonable, hence the title of the book - Understanding Unreasonable Force.
Product Number: 1-84667-030-6