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April 16, 2012

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Sandy Alperstein

Terrific piece, Charlie! We at Our Children Left Behind (parent volunteer website) are focusing on this issue and working to get the bills moving again in Congress. I would urge all concerned people to call, fax, and email their federal legislators, write letters to the editors of their local newspapers, and reach out to spread the word to friends, neighbors and beyond! To get involved (as much or as little as your schedule allows), please check out www.OurChildrenLeftBehind.com, reading this blog, and finding out as much as you can about this critical issue facing our families!

Heather

My personal opinion...when done SAFELY and CORRECTLY, restraints can be and should be the last step used in keeping all parties safe. However, there is NO PLACE for seclusion in our schools. The seclusion room (the special needs, public school my son was in called in "the quiet area") resembles a seclusion room in an old prison and through negligence they broke three of his bones and the open would required emergency surgery. This on a 10-year-old, approx 80 lb boy. Parents can't get stats on R and S in Virginia's regional, public, SN schools either. This is an archaic and lazy way to "control" our children

EB

We must be all in favor of policy changes that limit the use of restraints and seclusions, and that give extra scrutiny to districts whose usage of these techniques is high. BUT, the reality is that, properly used, these are last resorts to keep students safe. If you ban them there will be far more 1) referrals to specialty schools and 2) calls to the police. Is that really what we want?

Teri-Lynn

I am the exception it seems.I am pushing the school to physically intervene and use physical prompting to guide my daughter to a cool down area / safe space and IF needed then briefly and safely restrain until she can regain a sense of self control. My daughter does not have autism nor is autistic. However she does have a emotional regulation disorder and is very hard to read as choice defiance and learned escape from uncomfortable environments. She is squeezing through locked gates and danglingdangoureously from tall fences.panics and tries to head for home... Now because of how the school lacks in taking charge and learning what her needs really are we now have to deal with the police and CPS through the school and my daughter fears being removed from our home. What about her safety? Where is the restraint for the child's safety? Fight or flight is and uncontrolled response made by a person lacking the ability to be in control.The risk for a horrible accident is preventable with proper training and a timely response.

renee

"The GAO report led to pending federal legislation designed to eliminate or restrict the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools. "

I eagerly await the elimination of the use of seclusion and restraint in ALL schools. Let's get real: The problem with the situation is that untrained individuals are often brought into the situation. At the moment, people think they are doing something right. When your principal/education director asks the front office person or maintenance person to lend a hand in restraining a child, they are doing it because that person their boss. They are not thinking about the student or the reasons, but doing what their boss has asked of them. First off the principal/Special Educator director should be trained in very specific method of restraint, as should anyone who ever lends a hand on a child. Further more, in the situation I was in, the student was simply trying to hide. He was not in danger of hurting himself or anyone else. He needed to be given space and watched from a distance until his parents could be contacted or he calmed down. The restraint (if you want to call it that) was used for behavior correction and punishment. The education director was a large woman, weighing at least 5 times the weight of the small boy. When she needed a break, she asked two grown men to take her place. A 170 pound man should not be needed to restrain a 40-pound boy! The child was traumatized and had bruises on his arms for a few days. I don't think the parents ever knew their child had been touched. I imagine that situations like this and worse, happen every day. This is simply child abuse, plain and simple. This child will have that experience of being restrained in his mental memory, and it will now possibly be something that he does to his children, or other children. Yes, I agree there are situations when a child is out of control, but that is a time to call the parents or have a counselor or highly trained individual be available at all times. This is not the case in most schools. Again , let's get real: Let's ask ourselves what needs to happen to make sure that random and untrained individuals in subjective situations are not abusing children in schools. The training used at my current organization is Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training Program. Regardless, there still needs to be very specific guidelines when working with Special Education students. Thank you for your consideration to this important issue.

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