I was surprised to see this article by Christopher Cousins in the online version of the Bangor Daily News, “Data from schools show widespread use of restraint and seclusion, but validity of numbers debated.” Cousins reports that 800 of Maine’s 185,738 students were restrained at schools during the 2012-13 academic year in order to deal with their emotional outbursts. Often, the students have special needs. The disciplinary practice is controversial and Maine even changed its state laws in 2012 to clarify what teachers can and cannot do. This May 2013 paper, How Safe Is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies, by Jessica Butler lays out the confusing patchwork of seclusion and restraint laws in each state.
Butler makes the argument that “Seclusion and restraint are highly dangerous interventions that have led to death, injury, and trauma in children. The GAO (The Government Accountability Office, a U.S. Congressional watchdog organization) collected at least 20 stories of children who died in restraint. Neither practice should be allowed when there is no emergency posing a danger to physical safety.”