Today’s guest author is Charmaine Thaner
Charmaine Thaner is a special education advocate, an experienced public speaker, a parent, and a changemaker in Idaho. On December 21st, Charmaine attended an Idaho State Board of Education meeting in Boise, Idaho, to share her story and encourage the members of the Board of Education to end the use of seclusion and corporal punishment in Idaho schools. What follows is the public comment she delivered at the meeting.
Good morning, I’m Charmaine Thaner from the Idahoans for Safe Schools.
Restraint, Seclusion, and Corporal Punishment are not special education issues; they are education issues.
I remember hearing a second-grade teacher describe how she restrained a student in her class. She talked about the shame and guilt she felt and still feels today.
The teacher described looking at her second grader and seeing his eyes filled with terror staring back at her throughout the time he was restrained.
You may have experienced something similar when you’ve taken your child to the doctor, and the doctor announces they need bloodwork done. Your child’s eyes immediately dart to you with this frightful look as if they say, “No, help me! Don’t let them do this to me!”
Now take that level of fear of a child having a blood draw and times that by 1,000 to understand the trauma induced when adults restrain a child at school.
Years later, the teacher learned that there were alternatives to restraint and seclusion. She learned how wrong it was.
You might be wondering who this teacher is. You might already know that teacher is me. That was me. I’ve lived it. I know this. I know what it feels like. And I regret every single minute of it to this day.
We have research on the damages done by restraint, seclusion, and corporal punishment, and we also have alternatives we can help staff learn to use.
I do have some excellent news to share with you that was just announced on Dec. 14th.
The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), whose training is used by 38% of the school districts in Idaho, recently announced its partnership with Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint (AASR). One of their major goals is to develop further trauma-informed, neuroscience-aligned training programs to support educators in proactively preventing crises.
These new training programs will be available to public schools.
Let me wrap up.
Science confirms what we know in our hearts. Restraint, seclusion, and corporal punishment traumatize students, staff, and witnesses.
As Maya Angelou reminded us, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” Our teachers have been doing the best they can with what they know. We now know better. It’s past time to do better.
As a retired educator, a parent, and a special education advocate, I urge our State Board of Education and state legislators to ban the use of Seclusion, Corporal Punishment and prevent the use of Restraints in Idaho’s public schools. It is past time for this legislation that will protect our children from these harmful practices.