In March of 2014, Claire Nossiter’s 16-year-old daughter with autism, Lyndsay, came home from school covered in bruises. And although this unfortunate story began over four years ago, its negative impact is still affecting the Nossiter family today.
Lyndsay used to be a student at Bothwell Park High in North Lanarkshire, UK, a school which caters to students who need additional special needs support.
Lyndsay’s mother told The Sun that staff would regularly restrain her daughter. Sometimes, using restraint techniques are necessary with individuals with autism who are particularly aggressive.
However, one day in March 2014, Lyndsay came home with bruises covering her arms and face.
The sight of her daughter was alarming because, as reported by the Daily Record, the school had called her saying that Lyndsay had gotten a small bruise on her cheek after being restrained. (1)
This supposedly small bruise on her cheek worried doctors at the hospital though. So much so that they worried her jaw may have been fractured.
“There were bruises all over her body,” Claire said. “She looked like she’d been in a car crash, not at school.” (2)
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Due to the severity of Lyndsay’s injuries, Claire immediately notified the authorities.
At first, the North Lanarkshire Council claimed that the school’s staff members involved acted appropriately.
But unsatisfied with the outcome, Claire’s advocacy for a police inquiry led to a second investigation upon which two teachers were “charged with culpable and reckless conduct.” (2)
A Little Bit About Physical Restraint Procedures in School Settings
One North Lanarkshire Council spokesman explained that restraint techniques (e.g., arm holds, inverting wrists, pressure compliance, holding on the ground face up, down, or in the recovery position) can be required for the safety of the student and their peers, as well as school staff.
According to the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD), views on physical restraint are quite divided.
One school of thought is that it can be therapeutic, though is perspective “has no scientific basis and is generally discredited. (3)
“Today most schools or programs that employ physical restraint view it as an emergency procedure to prevent injury to the student or others when a student is in crisis, although there is some evidence that it is actually employed for various other purposes including student compliance to adult commands.” (3)
After the second investigation into Lyndsay’s case, Claire was not happy.
And in January 2018, upon looking at the context, all the facts and available evidence, “Crown counsel instructed there should be no proceedings. Should the evidential position change, the Crown reserves the right to raise proceedings.” (2)
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