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New Video: Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Explained

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Students entering a classroom should feel safe, supported and excited for the opportunity to learn. However, the disciplinary practices of restraint and seclusion challenge this dynamic. Originally believed to be a necessary aspect of classroom behavior management, these concepts are now generally understood to represent a dangerous practice that jeopardizes the health and safety of students with disabilities within our school systems. Restraint and seclusion often involve actions and techniques such as forcibly holding a student down, limiting their mobility and other freedom of movement, or leaving a child alone in a room. Perhaps even more troubling than the techniques themselves is the silent, widespread use and authorization of these practices within state law.

The underreporting of the use of restraint and seclusion is dangerous. A report published last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 70% of schools nationally reported no instances of restraint and seclusion, even though there have been more than 76,000 incidents of restraint and nearly 21,000 incidents of seclusion reported in Florida over a seven-year period since the Florida Legislature passed legislation directing data collection and incident reporting procedures in 2011.

Given these high incidence rates regarding the use of restraint and seclusion, it is important to acknowledge the effect of these practices on students with disabilities. Restraint and seclusion can affect students academically due to the isolation of students from peer contact and the limiting of a student’s actual instructional time as a result. Moreover, the practices can exacerbate the physical, mental, and behavioral health of students experiencing the trauma associated with restraint and seclusion regularly (or even on occasion).

Despite the inherent dangers related to the use of restraint and seclusion, state legislative efforts proposing much-needed definitions, standards, and prohibitions for these practices within state educational laws have not passed fully through the legislative process since 2011. Disability Rights Florida continues to urge legislators and policymakers to address these deficiencies comprehensively and conscientiously and is hopeful that this discussion will continue during the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

In partnership with Rooted in Rights, we present a video conveying the dangers and prevalent use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities in our state educational system.

You can also view this video on our Videos webpage and on our YouTube channel.

For more information, support, and more, contact Disability Rights Florida.

Rooted in Rights is a media project designed to tell candid and accessible stories that support the ever-evolving understanding of disability, mental health, and chronic illness.

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restraint and seclusion, special education, video,

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