North East MPs are leading calls for controls on the use of force to restrain children with autism or mental health problems.
It follows warnings that the way some children are treated in detention causes “physical distress and psychological harm” and is “not compliant with human rights standards”.
Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Conservative, and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, a Labour MP, are among those leading calls for change.
Mrs Trevelyan backed a Commons motion calling for the Department for Education “to urgently issue guidance on reducing the use of restrictive intervention of children and young people”.
Around 2,500 children are detained in the UK, whether for treatment or welfare reasons, or because of criminal offences. Many have a mental illness, learning disability or autism.
MPs are concerned that special schools, children’s homes, health units and assessment and treatment centres are physically restraining children, some as young as five, when there is no need to do so.
Experts say restraint can cause pain and trauma and can be dangerous.
A report by Parliament’s Human Rights Committee warned last week that the practice breached human rights.
It said: “We received unanimous evidence from medics, inspectors, lawyers, and staff who work in detention, that restraint and separation are harmful to children and should be avoided if at all possible.”
Mrs Trevelyan said: “Nobody would think it was acceptable to tie down a dog that was barking too loudly and yet we are still allowing kids to be restrained.
“It’s that weird logic that there is a cohort to young people who are too difficult to manage.
“But they are just children who need to be looked after and educated at a different environment to mainstream norms.”
She has told the House of Commons that Northumberland constituents have written to her to report that their own children have been affected.
The MP said said: “Many constituents have written to me with deep concerns about the effect that the undue use of force might have had on their child – and, in three harrowing cases, the effect that it has indeed had.
“One constituent detailed how the use of unreasonable restraint had a lasting effect on the health not only of the particular family member but on the whole family, which created years of trauma and ongoing illness.
“The use of excessive force can lead to long-term damage … we can never allow such abuses to take place in our civilised society.”
Ms Lewell-Buck has raised concerns in a series of questions to Ministers.
Speaking in the House of Commons she highlighted a report by inspection service Ofsted which raised concerns about “high levels of violence” in children’s secure training centres.
She said: “The use of pain-inducing restraint techniques in youth prisons and right across the secure estate has been found to carry up to a 60% chance of causing serious injury to children.
“This is Government-sanctioned abuse of children. When is it going to end?”
An inquiry by 5 Live in 2017 found fewer than one in five local authorities kept records of occasions when children were restrained in special schools.
But those that did reported that children had been restrained on 13,000 occasions in the previous three years, resulting in 731 injuries. It suggests the total number of injuries is much higher.