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Jan. 27 2010 - 10:35 am | 1,836 views | 2 recommendations | 4 comments

Restraint and abuse: Time to get information out before more kids die

A Wisconsin girl died after after being restrained at a mental health facility. Her crime: blowing bubbles in her milk and moving during a time-out.

An Arkansas girl was suspended from school because she refused to go into a small isolation box that was locked at top and bottom.

In Colorado, children were locked in a seclusion room and forced to sit in their own urine because they weren’t allowed bathroom breaks. One child in a lock-down room injured himself and was left covered in blood. Other students were denied food.

These horrifying incidents are but a few that were outlined in a damning report issued last January by the National Disability Rights Network. Called Restraint or Seclusion in Schools, the report documented case after case of abuse of children, many of them with severe disabilities, at the hands of teachers and caregivers. It also highlighted the inconsistencies among state policies regarding restraint, recommended best practices, and called for change at the federal, state, and local level.

There was an outcry, as you might imagine. A few months later, the Government Accountability Office issued a similar report, outlining outrageous cases of abuse and finding that there is no federal policy on the use of restraint and seclusion.

Outrage! Horror! Promises were made. But it’s been a year since the first report, and the Department of Education has not released information on state regulations regarding these practices. The intrepid folks at Disability Scoop are on the case and have put pressure on federal officials. They report today that information will be released in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Rep. George Miller of California has introduced legislation to curtail restraint and seclusion of children. Says Miller:

The types of abuse these kids are suffering are so disturbing, you’d think these were stories about torture tactics used at prison camps. Instead they’re happening to some of our youngest children, in our schools.

via Q&A with Rep. Miller on restraints on kids: ‘This abuse is a nightmare’ – USATODAY.com.

Torture tactics used at prison camps. And these things were being done to  our youngest and most fragile children.

A year is too long to pass without the Department of Education issuing information and establishing forceful, unequivocal guidelines. Miller has been leading the effort on Capitol Hill, but the DOE should have taken immediate action — beyond soundbites and promises — that would ensure parents that such abuse will never happen again. It’s too late for the 14-year-old Texas child who died after being smothered while placed in a so-called “therapeutic hold.” Get the information out, and get it out now.


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  1. collapse expand

    It is a “dirty little secret” that children continue to be struck with boards for School “Discipline” purposes in 20 PREDOMINANTLY SOUTHERN states, while in stark contrast it is Illegal for school employees to do so in schools in 30 states! It is a dangerous practice that is not evidence based and puts the U.S. at odds with over 100 countries that have banned it.

    The Southern Education Foundation recently issued a report that the South is the First U.S. Region with a Majority of Low-Income (living in Poverty) and Minority Students in Southern Schools, that a large number of graduates will come from educational deprivation, which will have enormous implications.

    School Physical/Corporal Punishment is related to the discrepancy in achievement scores for African American children. The U.S. Department of Education committee announced two years ago that addressing the achievement gap is a high priority in LNCB reauthorization. African American children represent l7 percent of the school population and receive 36 percent of the paddlings.

    At his Senate confirmation hearing in February, Arne Duncan succinctly summarized the Obama administration’s approach to education reform: “We must build upon what works. We must stop doing what doesn’t work.”

    It was reported that there were nearly 60,000 spankings in Miss. schools last year. Ouch! For the second time in a month, a school district in Leflore County has been hit with a $500,000 (each) lawsuit from a student alleging injuries from a paddling. It was reported that a state legal adviser, told Bristol, Tennessee Director of School that while school principals who paddled students were legally protected from allegations of assault, they were not immune from accusations of inappropriate or improper touching.

    School boards are asking for trouble to sanction a practice that is intended to inflict pain.

    Our nation’s most prominent and trusted National Children’s Health and Education Organizations have issued official position statements OPPOSING Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in SCHOOLS including The American Medical Assn (AMA), American Academy of Pediatricians, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Bar Assn, American Humane Assn, American Psychiatric Assn, American Psychological Assn, American Public Health Assn, National Parent Teacher Assn (PTA), National Assn for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Mental Health Assn and Prevent Child Abuse America among others.

    People with SPANKING FETISHES work in occupations that give them access to children like hospitals, schools, boy scouts, etc. and over 2,500 teachers were punished in a 5 year period since 2000 for inappropriate sexual relations with our nation’s school children, and women teachers are sexually preying on children at an increasingly alarming rate, which is why PHYSICAL/CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS MUST BE ABOLISHED IMMEDIATELY!

    Controversy is raging as evidenced by media coverage of 3 Multi-Million Dollar College Football Coaches fired since the end of the season for Abusing College Student Athletes.

    Teachers and coaches are not required to adhere to any standard “Code of Ethics”.

    Let us hope all the media attention regarding abuse of students by those paid to be entrusted with their care and education will result in pressure on U.S. Government Officials and local Politicians to stop ignoring Children’s Fundamental Human Rights by ABOLISHING Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools Immediately, the cost is $0! Please contact your Governor/State Legislators/U.S. Congress Representatives to demand legislation to ABOLISH Phyical/Corporal Punishment of ALL Children/Students in ALL SCHOOLS and visit the Center for Effective Discipline website for Alternative Discipline strategies, maps of School Paddling States, Laws and statistics regarding number of children/students physically punished in SCHOOLS.

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    I spent a good chunk of my adult life as an arts reporter/critic/columnist for the Boston Globe. Among other things, I covered the cultural wars of the early 1990s (remember Mapplethorpe?), reviewed theater, and profiled all sorts of interesting characters. I also wrote an early column about online culture, which led me to become one of the first online war correspondents during the conflict in Kosovo, an odd but exhilarating gig for an arts maven. While I was a fellow in the National Arts Journalism program, a colleague handed me a gloomy article called “Print is Dead.” I eventually got the message and took a buyout from the Globe in 2001. I had vague dreams of saving the world, but instead had three kids in 17 months. Therein lies my newfound interest in public education. I am hoping to create a dialogue about what’s wrong, what’s right, and what’s up in our schools today.

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