RiR Explains Restraint and Seclusion
Full Transcript of Video
NARRATOR: In North Carolina, students with mental illness were being taped to chairs and locked in closets by teachers. In Washington State, a middle school student was restrained by pressing her face into a carpet for an extended period of time. In South Dakota, a young boy was secluded in a storage room. It caused him to develop anxiety about going to school. In West Virginia, a teen was restrained by a school staff with no special training. His injuries were so severe, his physician called Child Protective Services to report child abuse. In Florida, a middle school student was physically restrained on a daily basis for two years, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder. Every child has the right to feel safe and included at school. But across the US, many students with disabilities have experiences that are exactly the opposite. Restraints are any holds in which a student’s ability to move is limited. A prone restraint is one method in which two adults hold down a child’s legs and arms while the child is forced face-down on the floor. Sometimes restraints involve using tools, like straps, handcuffs, or bungee cords. Seclusion is more than just a timeout. Students are left isolated and confined for excessive periods of time, sometimes without contact or observation from anyone. These controversial methods are intended to prevent a student from harming themselves or others. But instead, they cause greater harm, even death. And too often, school staff use restraint and seclusion as a first step in any behavior situation, not as a last resort. According to the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, states reported 122,000 incidents of restraint and seclusion in the 2015-16 school year, and that estimate is probably low. 71% of those restrained and 66% of those secluded were students with disabilities. Federal statutes regulate restraint and seclusion in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and psychiatric facilities, but not in schools, and all previous attempts for federal regulation have failed. And in many states, there are very few, often vague laws. Schools are supposed to help kids get ready for the future, not burden them with lifelong trauma. We need to educate school staff on how and why students with learning and behavioral issues may react the way they do. Schools need to implement comprehensive research-based mental and behavioral services in schools. Schools need to have detailed deescalation training in place for teachers, staff, and school resource officers. We also need a national standard of positive interventions and supports. Restraint and seclusion represent a failure to support students.