Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Enough is Enough: Regulate Restraint and Seclusion in Schools

By Corinne Ruth, NAMI policy intern and Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the Child and Adolescent Action Center

The need to regulate restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools just gained significant momentum with the release of a new report and an NPR article that highlights the need for immediate action. ProPublica analyzed data released by the U.S. Department of Education showing that there were 267,000 instances of restraining or secluding children in schools in one school year. The NPR article highlights an incident in which a young boy with autism panicked after being threatened with seclusion. When school officials tried to force him into the “quiet area” a small locked room, bones in his hand were crushed.

Despite claims that schools are limiting the use of restraint and seclusion, these unacceptably high numbers suggest otherwise. Some schools reported restraining or secluding students dozens and even hundreds of times each year. In 75 percent of these cases, restraint and seclusion was used with children with a disability including mental illness. Many of these instances of restraint and seclusion were improperly used when an emergency did not exist.

Congress has introduced The Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 1893, S. 2036) to protect children from the unnecessary and harmful use of restraint and seclusion. This legislation allows restraint to be used when a student’s behavior poses an immediate danger of physical harm to that student or anyone else. For example a student may be restrained if they are striking other students, banging their head against the wall, “gouging their eyes”, or other related behaviors. In cases when restraint is used, the bill requires schools to notify the child’s parents and work with them to plan ways to better manage difficult behaviors in the future. The Keeping All Students Safe Act fosters a positive learning environment in schools by promoting interventions that help minimize disruptive classroom behaviors and instructing school staff in more effective ways of addressing students who may be in crisis.

Momentum is building for this legislation and we urge you to be a part by contacting your Congressional representatives to ask for their support and to use their leadership to move the legislation forward to a vote.

6 comments:

Lillie Nuzman said...

I am a retired special educator for the severely emotionally disturbed at a public separate day school. This is something that I am glad that laws are addressing. It was very painful to see students restrained for inappropriate reasons. In training us for restraints, school admininistration would only go through the physical portion. Our staff was in great need to do the verbal to prevent the restraint.

happyhodgepodge said...

I would like to know how the details of "(4) School personnel have the right to work in a safe
environment and should be provided training and support to
prevent injury and trauma to themselves and others." will be determined, implemented, and enforced.....I have a kindergartner w/PTSD & mood disorder who was suspended over 15 times this past year and physically restrained numerous times....marks were left at times...begging and pushing for IEP and FINALLY after 2 years at the school, they are "evaluating."

Anonymous said...

There is so much negative publicity that I feel everyone thinks those of us working with special needs children are monsters. We aren't. Our school does have a quiet room but there is no lock. We must stand there holding the door and observe the student the entire time. Why do we use a quiet room? Because the student is harming themselves, other students and us. As students get older they are capable of inflicting even greater harm to those around them. The percentage of permanently injured assistants is very high. I understand that the student that permanently injured me had no understanding of what he did. However, I now live with chronic pain and the inability to do activities I once enjoyed. Bottom line, there will always be those that abuse the tools provided for safety, but there will be teachers injured on a daily basis (many permanently), because of restrictions we must follow. I am not a horrible teacher and my student is not a horrible student. He was just three times bigger than me, with normal junior high hormones that he didn't understand that caused extreme anger. My safety and those around him is as important as his safety is.

Vik Vein said...

When I was reading the previous comment I was just shocked. You should have a huge heart to be injured by such student and then to say that he is not guilty as he didn`t understand what he was doing. To my mind both teachers and students have a right to have a normal life and be safe. I was planning to work with such pupils but now I am still a student and I am finishing my coursework ( learn more here about the assistance with coursework) and now I am not sure that I want to be insulted in such way and moreover to realize that nobody will protect me.

Anonymous said...

I live with a bipolar brother first of all. Second of all, I am an elementary school teacher. I believe whole heatedly in every child's ability to learn and succeed. Sometimes the general education classroom is not a good place for students that have trouble with transitioning, over stimulation, or anxiety. It puts other students at risk and makes learning difficult for an entire classroom of students. I do believe there are those who abuse the seclusion practice but in most schools they take this seriously. I do not believe educators speak out enough about this because we fear reprimand or losing our jobs. Like the earlier post, I have witnessed so many professionals with training being abused, bitten, hit,kicked, etc. I know I have had to evacuate my classroom several times a year for these children who experience this. However, I do not think it is right to blame the schools or the teachers. Most of us are trying our best to handle what we're given, with the best tools we can pull out of our toolboxes. Please work with the teacher as a team. It does no good to attack on the defensive side. We should work as a team for every student.

Sharon Daley Scott said...

I taught in the elementary school system, for over nine years. I worked with special needs children, or what my degree states emotionally disturbed children. I always called them misunderstood. I loved my job and saw a lot of success with these children. Not once did I ever restrain a child physically. Why? did not have to, I stayed calm, talked softly, lovingly and warmly. By doing so I defused the situation way before it got so out of hand that the child endangered him/her self or another student. Please check out my blog. I am an advocate. www.sharondaleyscottwriter.com