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The Dangers of Restraining and Secluding Students

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A study released today by the Government Accountability Office finds that the pervasive use of violent restraining and secluding techniques by teachers with students who have special needs has led to hundreds of deaths and injuries of American school children in the last twenty years, according to ABC.news. Coinciding with the report’s release is a hearing today at the U.S. House Committee of Education and Labor to determine if the seclusion and restraint of students should be against federal law.

Committee chairman Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., called the report "alarming" and "eye opening," in his prepared remarks, quoted by ABC.news. "Recent news reports document appalling stories of teachers tying children to chairs, taping their mouths shut, using handcuffs, denying them food, fracturing bones, locking them in small dark spaces, and sitting on them until they turn blue," said Miller.

One of those victims was Cedric, a 14-year-old foster child from Texas who had been abused by his biological family. In 2002, after Cedric tried to leave his 8th grade classroom and then refused to sit down, his six-foot tall, 200-pound teacher, as described by his foster mother Toni Price, restrained him. "Cedric struggled as he was being held in his chair, so the teacher put him in a face down, or in a prone restraint, and sat on him," Price explained. "He struggled and said repeatedly, 'I can’t breathe.' 'If you can speak, you can breathe,' she snapped at him." Paramedics were called to the school and pronounced Cedric dead.

Not everyone agrees that restraint and seclusion of school children should be banned. Glenn Koocher, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, believes "teachers need to have the ability under clearly outlined protocol to restrain children." As to the risk of abuse, Koocher told ABC.news, it’s "a reasonable risk we have to take."

2 Comments

How absolutely beastly. Not even in Africa that is a developing country do we go to such extreme measures. We have special schools where challenged learners are treated with dignity

You might be interested to learn that the unacceptable practice of hitting children with wooden paddles still legally takes place in schools in 21 states in the U.S., it is called "Corporal (Physical) Punishment". We found out about this when my own 13 year old son insisted his Middle School Assistant Principal call us, as they were about to administer a paddling to him for going outside with his class when he was told to stay in. It is done as a first resort, with no parental communication in hallways within earshot of other students. Thank goodness we have always taught our 3 children that NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH THEM, THEY CAN SAY “NO”, GET AWAY AND TELL SOMEONE to protect them from SEXUAL ABUSE! We have been working for over a year to raise awareness and advocate for Children’s Equal Civil Rights in American Schools. 29 states have Abolished Corporal Punishment in schools making it ILLEGAL. Congress held a hearing about abusive practices in schools 5/19/09. SPANKING schoolchildren with wooden paddles is NOT exactly Education's "Best Practices" in 21st Century classrooms and is ABSOLUTELY NOT A LOCAL ISSUE TO BE DECIDED BY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS! The problem is that the Federal Government has no authority, although they could tie school paddling bans to federal education funding and States have relegated authority to individual autonomous UNRESPONSIVE local school district Governing Boards. State Legislators and/or Governors MUST pass school paddling bans tied to education funding and/or legislation to Abolish Corporal Punishment of Children in ALL AMERICAN SCHOOLS IMMEDIATELY!


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