Restraint and seclusion are crisis management strategies that are used in many schools across the nation and the world. Physical Restraint, is exactly what it sounds like, it is a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move his or her torso, arms, legs or head freely. Seclusion is the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. These interventions are dangerous and have led to serious injuries and even death in students, teachers and staff.
According to federal guidance restraint and/or seclusion should never be used except in situations where a child’s behavior poses an imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others, and restraint and seclusion should be avoided to the greatest extent possible without endangering the safety of students and staff. The important wording here is “serious physical harm”, these measures are not intended merely for unsafe situations, but rather to situations that could result in death or serious bodily injury. As such based on federal guidance restraint and seclusion should be exceedingly rare. However, it has been found that restraint and seclusion are occurring far more frequently in schools across the nation and are not always limited to situations that involve imminent serious physical harm.
I started my career working in a residential facility. Restraints and seclusions were common, almost daily experiences. So I have a long history with them. I am embarrassed to say that while I was in my 20’s trying to supervise extremely volatile and impacted children, I saw them as “sometimes necessary for safety.” I don’t think that anymore. As an educator, I have worked relentlessly to decrease the use of these traumatic interventions.
Safety First: A quick start guide for parents working to keep their kids safe from restraint, seclusion, suspension, and expulsion
When I held each of my two kids as newborns, I promised to keep each of them as safe as possible. I know that the world isn’t fair and that no parent can (or should) shield their children from all of life’s difficulties, but I thought that since I had a relatively safe childhood, I could keep both my kids safe from abuse and trauma as elementary school students.
These things go in a closet. Kids don’t belong in a closet in school. These things go in a closet. Putting kids in a closet is cruel. Putting kids in a closet is cruel. Vote to end the seclusion rooms.
I’m a special educator with over ten years of experience working in self-contained alternative classrooms in Arizona and Vermont. When I began my career, I was a teacher who restrained and secluded young children. I was a teacher who couldn’t have done anything differently because I lacked skills. I was new and inexperienced. I didn’t understand the impacts that trauma and adverse experiences have on young children’s perception of the world. Unknowingly, I contributed to the trauma by using restraint and seclusion. Restraint and seclusion never felt right, so I quit using them.
School is hard. A classmate told my mom I wasn’t a real Princess. My mom said, “How do you know she isn’t a real Princess?” I Iaughed.This Princess is restrained and secluded at school for not listening or not working on boring worksheets or not sitting in my boring chair. Being secluded makes me sad and mad. Mom calls that being smad.
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