Toolkit: The Issues

The use of restraint and/or seclusion can cause serious physical injuries and lifelong trauma to students, teachers, and staff. Sadly, children have even died due to the use of restraint and seclusion.

There is no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the occurrence of behaviors of concern that frequently precipitate the use of such techniques.

There is a lack of consistency for definitions of seclusion and restraint from state to state. Even within schools staff are often unaware of legal definitions for these terms.

Data is unreliable.  According to a 2019 Government Accountability Office report, many schools are failing to accurately report restraint and seclusion incident numbers.

There is a lack of parental/caregiver notification. Parents/caregivers are often not notified when their child is restrained and/or secluded. Children can come home from school having experienced trauma.

Training is varied and ineffective in many cases. Educator bias/subjectivity impacts whether educators embrace newer trauma-informed behavioral practices.

Many schools have cops but no counselors. According to the ACLU, 14 million students are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker.

The for-profit crisis management training industry benefits financially from providing training in physical interventions that are used on children in our schools.

In the News


Maine passed LD 1373 in May 2021, “An Act To Keep All Maine Students Safe by Restricting the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools.” The legislation was modeled after the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a federal bill that would prohibit the use of seclusion, as well as prone and supine restraint in schools that receive federal funding.Unfortunately, the proposed ban on seclusion did not pass as part of the bill.

Illinois passed HB 219 in August 2021 to amend the state school code, barring school workers from locking children alone in seclusion spaces, limiting the use of isolated timeout, and limiting the use of physical restraint to situations with imminent danger of physical harm.  The bill also prohibits the use of prone restraint and includes requirements for staff training and greater accountability, transparency, and reporting.

In Florida HB 149 was signed into law by Governor Rick DeSantis.  The bill addresses the use of restraint for students with disabilities.  The legislation prohibits school personnel from using seclusion, defined by the legislation as “involuntary confinement of a student in a room or area alone and preventing the student from leaving the room or area.”  It also introduces a pilot program where, upon the request of a parent, video cameras will be placed in certain classrooms.

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