A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children


Happening more and more at schools across the country… kids are being arrested for minor infraction of rules,  restrained, hand cuffed,  and placed in rooms all alone.  Our ‘challenged” children are often the targets-are your kids safe from this type of treatment?  What would YOU do if  this happened to your child?

By BILL LICHTENSTEIN

IN my public school 40 years ago, teachers didn’t lay their hands on students for bad behavior. They sent them to the principal’s o  ffice. But in today’s often overcrowded and underfunded schools, where one in eight students receive help for special learning needs, the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms has become a common way to maintain order.

It’s a dangerous development, as I know from my daughter’s experience. At the age of 5, she was kept in a seclusion room for up to an hour at a time over the course of three months, until we discovered what was happening. The trauma was severe.

According to national Department of Education data, most of the nearly 40,000 students who were restrained or isolated in seclusion rooms during the 2009-10 school year had learning, behavioral, physical or developmental needs, even though students with those issues represented just 12 percent of the student population. African-American and Hispanic students were also disproportionately isolated or restrained.

Joseph Ryan, an expert on the use of restraints who teaches at Clemson University, told me that the practice of isolating and restraining problematic children originated in schools for children with special needs. It migrated to public schools in the 1970s as federal laws mainstreamed special education students, but without the necessary oversight or staff training. “It’s a quick way to respond but it’s not effective in changing behaviors,” he said.

State laws on disciplining students vary widely, and there are no federal laws restricting these practices, although earlier this year Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote, in a federal guide for schools, that there was “no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective.” He recommended evidence-based behavioral interventions and de-escalation techniques instead.

The use of restraints and seclusion has become far more routine than it should be. “They’re the last resort too often being used as the first resort,” said Jessica Butler, a lawyer in Washington who has written about seclusion in public schools.

Among the recent instances that have attracted attention: Children in Middletown, Conn., told their parents that there was a “scream room” in their school where they could hear other children who had been locked away; last December, Sandra Baker of Harrodsburg, Ky., found her fourth-grade  son, Christopher, who had misbehaved, stuffed inside a duffel bag, its drawstrings pulled tight, and left outside his classroom. He was “thrown in the hall like trash,” she told me. And in April, Corey Foster, a 16-year-old with learning disabilities, died on a school basketball court in Yonkers, N.Y., as four staff members restrained him following a confrontation during a game. The medical examiner ruled early last month that the death was from cardiac arrest resulting from the student’s having an enlarged heart, and no charges were filed.

Continue Reading @ NY Times

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5 thoughts on “A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children

  1. “They sent them to the principal’s office.”

    That only works if the principal has sufficient authority cower students into behaving. With special needs students, their IEPs frequently prevent appropriate or (any) punishment due to concerns over their disabilities. Once kids figure this out, (around sixth grade in my experience), behavior problems have the run of the school and sending them to principal’s office only serves to give them an opportunity to disrupt many classroom’s rather than the one to which they are assigned.

    Frankly, as a former special needs student, had this discipline been implemented in the schools I attended, my GPA would have been much higher and I would have learned a lot more as the fuckwits who disrupted class and made my attendance sheer hell would have faced real consequences.

    Just remember, the kids subjected to this kind of discipline are the reason many liberals spend tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to live where they do.

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  2. I went to a catholic school, we got the ruler treatment… also in high school, we could get ‘swats’ in lieu of detention hours! But there were no cops on campus and were placed in rooms alone. The only time cops were called was for fights or drugs…..

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  3. Agreed.

    One thing though. In his opening line, the author states that kids back in the day, didn’t get hit by teachers and admins. Maybe at his school – but not at mine!

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