Glossary & Terms
There is currently no federal law that defines restraint and seclusion, so definitions of the terms will vary by state and local school district. The following definitions are taken from the 2021 version of the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA) bill1 unless otherwise noted.
Physical restraint: a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of an individual to move the individual’s arms, legs, torso, or head freely. Does not include physical escort, mechanical or chemical restraint.
Physical escort: the temporary touching or holding of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, or back for the purpose of inducing a student who is acting out to walk to a safe location.
Mechanical restraint: the use of devices as a means of restricting a student’s freedom of movement.
Chemical restraint: a drug or medication used on a student to control behavior or restrict freedom of movement that is not–
- prescribed by a licensed physician, or other qualified health professional acting under the scope of the professional’s authority under State law, for the standard treatment of a student’s medical or psychiatric condition; and
- administered as prescribed by the licensed physician or other qualified health professional acting under the scope of the professional’s authority under State law.
Seclusion  : the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving. Does not include timeout.
- The U.S. Department of Justice2 has another definition of seclusion: the involuntary confinement of a student alone in any room or area. It includes the use of any room or area in which the student is alone and not free to leave (or believes they are not free to leave).
Timeout: a behavior management technique that may involve the separation of the student from the group or classroom in a non-locked setting. Does not include situations where a student is prevented from leaving.
School resource officers (SROs) are law enforcement officers that work within schools3.
Alternative Phrases and Terms
- Timeout (not to be confused with the definition of timeout above)
- Isolated timeout
- Quiet room
- Alternative structure
- Calming room
- Safe room
- Crisis intervention
- Physical hold
- Therapeutic hold
- Positive handling
- H.R.3474 – Keeping All Students Safe Act 117th Congress (2021-2022)
- United States Department of Justice (2022). What Is Seclusion?
- United States Department of Justice (2022). Supporting Safe Schools.