Children Are at Risk in Their Own Classrooms

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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Maureen Downey, who writes the Get Schooled blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reports on the problem of using restraint and seclusion to control students with behavioral problems. These students behavioral problems are often because they are emotionally disturbed, autistic or brain-injured. Most have difficulty in regular classrooms.

As someone who works in K12 education and often finds themselves in classrooms with these types of students I have seen first hand how problematic and disruptive these students can be. However, I have never seen a child restrained in any manner and the two types of seclusion I have seen are not like what is described in the article. The seclusion I have seen is a small (4' x 4'), doorless room in the corner of the classroom and larger (6' x 10') secured room with a window in the door. The latter requires someone to be in the room with the student or watching through the window.

I find it appalling that there are educational facilities so backwards that this can happen.

Unlocking a terrible secret of education: Isolation rooms and restraints

Today, U.S. Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)  introduced legislation limiting and regulating the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
It is long overdue.

(The two U.S. members have co-written a powerful op-ed on the issue at

According to Miller’s office:
A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last spring exposed hundreds of cases of schoolchildren being abused as a result of inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion, often involving untrained staff. In some cases, children died. A disproportionate number of these victims were students with disabilities.
“Something is very wrong when our children are at risk in their own classrooms,” said Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee who requested the GAO’s investigation. “In some cases, the abuses these kids are suffering are nothing short of torture inflicted at the hands of the very staff we entrust with their safety.”
In some of the cases GAO investigated, ropes, duct tape, chairs with straps and bungee cords were used to restrain or isolate young children.
Read the full article here.

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