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Care ethics and physical restraint in residential child care

Steckley, Laura (2015) Care ethics and physical restraint in residential child care. In: Ethics of Care. Policy Press, Bristol, pp. 195-206. ISBN 9781447316541

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When social care workers must respond to behaviour which poses serious, imminent danger, the response can sometimes take the form of physical restraint. Physical restraint has long been the subject of serious concern in social care, as well as other areas, such as law enforcement and psychiatry. This chapter focuses on physical restraint in residential child care. It is one of the most complex and ethically fraught areas of practice, yet there is almost no dedicated literature that applies itself to the ethical dimensions of this practice in this field. The chapter starts with discussion of the context of practice in residential child care. A tentative explanation for and critique of the lack of ethically dedicated attention to the subject of physical restraint in residential child care is then provided, with an argument for the transformative potential of care ethics to develop related thinking and practice. The chapter goes on to draw from a large-scale, qualitative study of physical restraint in residential child care in Scotland.