A disturbing photo of an autistic boy tied to a chair with his mouth covered with tape by a children’s center employee has sparked controversy.
The image of the 10-year-old boy was taken at the Golden Key Centre in Soviet Street, Russia. A member of the staff reportedly disagreed with how the children were being treated, and leaked the photo online.
According to Metro, the employee decided to post the photo online with the caption: “This is how children are punished in the children’s centre Golden Key.”
The employee added: “The centre employees have convinced the parents that it’s okay. The mother of the tied boy was convinced that such measures are necessary for development of her autistic son.”
However, the centre’s director has defended and reinforced its actions, and the boy’s mother reportedly agrees with the treatment.
Oksana Yudina, 44, director of the children’s centre, said that many of the children suffer from schizophrenia, autism and other mental and developmental disorders. She claims sedatives are not enough to calm patients.
“What do we do if a child starts throwing a chair at us? We cannot put a child in straitjacket if he makes some dangerous actions against us,” Yudina said.
Our task is to teach him how to sit calm. A teacher ties the child to the chair and then counts to ten. Then the teacher unties the child's feet and counts to five. Then he or she unties the child's hands. The children's parents know and approve of our methods.
Many outraged people have called for those involved to be punished, but the centre’s director claimed it was normal and for educational purposes, reports the Daily Mirror.
Julia Yerofeeva, Ombudsman of children rights in the Saratov region, has ordered the children’s centre to be investigated on the legality of the treatment and to make sure that all staff members are qualified.
"We'll find out whether the centre has permits for this work, but in any way to tie kids to the chair and close their mouths it is unacceptable,” Yerofeeva said.