There are currently no requirement for companies to report instances of handcuffing. That means there is no official record to prove how widespread the issue is or monitor how children are being treated when transported, Aklan said.
But she has seen “far too many children with red marks around their wrists with massive distrust towards the system which is supposed to be helping them,” she explained.
“I have seen children as young as 10 show me red marks around their wrists, terrified of getting into a car for fear of more inhuman treatment.
“There is a wider attitude towards children in care that goes all the way to the top – to the government – which so vitally needs shifting,” Aklan told The Big Issue.
“This attitude is one of dangerous complacency, an archaic view that children in care are problems that need to be dealt with, rather than unique human beings who deserve just as much care, kindness and compassion as any other child.”
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Those to back the EDM to discuss the issue in the House of Commons include ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Green co-leader Caroline Lucas. More politicians are set to hear directly from campaigners about the problem at Westminster next week.
Steve McCabe, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for looked after children and care leavers, said: “This is a shocking issue which has slipped under the radar for too long.
“The use of these physical restraints on vulnerable children is as inhumane as it is unnecessary, and the campaign has my wholehearted support.”
Streatham MP Ribeiro-Addy said the rising use of handcuffs against children “reflects a whole series of policy failures”.
“If we’re going to keep children safe, we need transparency about how they’re treated,” she said.
Serenity Welfare provides secure transport for vulnerable children and has “not once” had to resort to physical restraint since launching services five years ago, Aklan said.
The practice of handcuffing kids exposes inequalities already making life tougher for children in care, she added.
“It not only exacerbates inequalities but exacerbates trauma,” she said. “Mental health is a huge issue here – many children suffer from mental illness and have lived through experiences in their young lives many adults cannot imagine.”
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That instances of handcuffing are not recorded means there can be no way of knowing if disproportionate levels of enforcement are used against children from marginalised backgrounds, such as those from Black and minority ethnic families or kids with disabilities.
Children are more likely to be in care if they are male, Black or of mixed ethnicity, according to NSPCC figures – the same groups who grow up to be disproportionately at risk of dying while being restrained in police custody.
“Does it sometimes take longer to work calmly with a child to de-escalate a highly charged situation? Yes. Is it normal for a young person to feel frightened and distrustful of authority? Of course. Is it worth every extra minute to ensure that we are not caging children like animals? No doubt.”
No Conservative MPs have backed the motion yet.