Trauma, challenging behaviour and restrictive interventions in schools

9 January 2020

Briefing 54

How do restrictive interventions in schools affect young people’s mental health?

Our 54th briefing focuses on restrictive interventions in schools (such as seclusion, restraint and exclusion), highlighting the way they can exacerbate distress and behavioural problems among children who have experienced trauma.

Trauma, challenging behaviour and restrictive interventions in schools is a review of recent literature on the subject, and examines the links between trauma and challenging behaviour. The review highlights the way restrictive interventions can create a vicious circle of trauma, challenging behaviour, restriction and psychological harm.

There are, however, a number of alternative approaches to challenging behaviour in schools, which are less likely to exacerbate trauma. These include positive behavioural support and creating trauma-informed schools. We’re calling on the Government to take a trauma-informed approach to schools and managing behaviour, to ensure all children feel valued and understood.

Diagram showing the vicious cycle trauma, challenging behaviour and restrictive interventions in schools: trauma > showing challenging behaviour > being subject to a restrictive intervention > experiencing emotional harm from a restrictive intervention > trauma

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