Restraint and Seclusion by the Numbers

The civil rights of disabled children and minorities are being violated

Restraint and seclusion disproportionately impact disabled children and African American students in the United States. Many of the children impacted by restraint and seclusion are elementary school students as young as five years old. In the 2015–2016 school year over 122,000 students were restrained and/or secluded, according to data from the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. While students with disabilities make up 12 percent of total enrollment across the United States, they make up 71 percent of students who were restrained and 66 percent of the students who were secluded; African American students make up 15 percent of total enrollment, and yet they represent 27 percent of those students subject to restraint and 23 percent of those students who were secluded in school.

Restraint and seclusion can cause physical, psychological and emotional damage, and may result in serious injury or even death. The use of restraint and seclusion can place staff as well as the student being restrained in a highly confrontational, physically dangerous situation. Restraint and seclusion can escalate a student’s agitation and increase the chance of harm to either themselves or others. Researchers have documented the lasting effects of restraint and seclusion well-after the initial incident. Suicide has also been associated with the use of seclusion rooms.

We can and must do better for our students, teachers and, staff. Please contact your representatives in the Congress and Senate and ask them to protect the civil, constitutional and human rights of our children.


Disabled Restraint and Seclusion data: Education Week
Enrollment data: National Center for Education Statistics
2013/14 Restraint and Seclusion data: Office of Civil Rights
122,000 Restraints and Seclusions: Disability Scoop
African American data: The Century Foundation


Excel spreadsheet (53 kb)


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