Barbaric treatment of children needs to cease

The ‘secure care’ that children are experiencing whilst in Oranga Tamariki custody is barbaric and must stop immediately, the Green Party said today.

The widespread use of seclusion and restraint practices on children, mentally ill people, and other adults across New Zealand’s detention facilities is highlighted in a United Nations-funded report released today, ordered by the Human Rights Commission. Over the six months that the report looked into, 20 children aged between 11 and 15 in Care and Protection residences spent time in a Secure Care Unit over 76 different occurrences. Over the same period, 54 young people on 108 different occurrences in Youth Justice residences also spent time in a Secure Care Unit.

“It is totally wrong and barbaric to be putting children in solitary confinement while they are in Government care or custody,” Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Keeping children alone in solitary confinement, or in bare rooms with only a concrete slab for time-out, is the opposite of what these children need – care, attention, time, and resources for help.

“The Government has known for a long time that this is unacceptable. The onus is now on Ministers to follow this report’s recommendations and immediately ban the worst types of seclusion and restraint.

“The Government can now commit to ending solitary confinement for children by amending the Child Youth and Family bill before Parliament.

“Children in care and protection residences are there because being with their parents is unsafe. They’re supposed to be a safe place for at-risk young people, not “prison-like environments” as the report called them.

“The problem extends beyond youth care facilities with the report’s author describing Police, Corrections, and mental health institutions’ practices as ‘medieval’.

“We have thousands of people secluded every year in barbaric ways that other countries have either phased out or use only as a matter of absolute last resort.

“To change away from using seclusion as a behaviour management tool needs a serious cash injection and commitment in our social services, which this Government is very reluctant to make,” said Ms Logie. 

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