Every year there are thousands of incidents where Connecticut children experiencing emotional distress, some as young as three years old, are confined alone to a room, without any support, and physically prevented from leaving by their schools. Last month, the Connecticut Legislature held a hearing on proposed legislation to promote better equity for students with disabilities. Part of that legislation included a ban on this practice known as seclusion.
According to testimony by the Office of the Child Advocate, there have been numerous instances in which these “rooms” are actually “utility closets, storage closets, and cell-like spaces.” These draconian practices are disproportionately used against disabled students and students of color. That legislation, including the proposed ban on seclusion, received support from parents, doctors, mental health professionals, and other experts. The seclusion ban is also consistent with the position of the President of the American Federation of Teachers. Despite testimony that was overwhelmingly supportive of this ban, the bill has now been advanced with language that undoes the ban and allows for continued use of seclusion by schools.
This substitute bill will be voted on by the full Connecticut legislature this term, and we need a major outpouring of public calls to persuade lawmakers to reinstate the ban.
Seclusion is traumatic, isolating, and shaming. There are proven ways to help students in crisis, provide a safe environment and support all parties that do not include traumatic practices.
This is where you can help.
If you are a Connecticut resident concerned and outraged by these practices, lawmakers need to hear from you. If you or your child has been affected by these practices, lawmakers need to hear from you. It does not matter if you have any direct connection to these practices; if you are a Connecticut resident who cares, you can help.
Here’s how to take action
Call your state senator and representative in the next two weeks. You can write to them as well (see form below), but calls are logged and more effective this close to the vote.
You can find out who this is and how to contact them here.
When you call
- Provide your full name and the town you live in
- Ask them to take the lead in proposing an amendment to Raised Bill 1200 to ban the use of seclusion in Connecticut schools, as was originally proposed to the Education Committee.
- Include a reason or two as to why you want this amendment (this can be a personal story or any of the talking points below)
- The practice of seclusion is deeply traumatizing to the students subjected to it.
- Seclusion [and restraint] is disproportionately used on students of color and students with disabilities, and most of these students are between 5-7 years old.
- I was deeply moved by the testimony during the Education Committee Hearing on this bill. (or by the many news articles describing the practice of seclusion on young students)
- The use of restraint and seclusion increases stress behaviors and perpetuates a cycle of trauma. The use of these misguided interventions leads to an increase in classroom behaviors as children more easily will slip into fight/flight mode after experiencing seclusion.
- There is no educational or therapeutic value to using physical restraint and seclusion.
- Many states have already banned the use of seclusion on students.
- There are better, trauma-informed ways to manage students in emotional distress that create a safe, supportive space for all parties.
- Students should never feel scared to go to school because they’ve been restrained or secluded.
- Putting a child in seclusion is dehumanizing and teaches students that they are less than and is deeply damaging to self-esteem.
- It is impossible to imagine a scenario where isolating a child in a room who is at risk for self-harm is safe or appropriate.
- If these abusive practices remain legal, they will be used in situations that are nowhere near emergent.
This is a human rights issue. Please take 5 minutes to support our Connecticut children.