"He would knock over chairs," the teacher tells me, "hit and scratch other students and teachers, grab and pull hair, and do other physically destructive behaviors."
What's a teacher to do? Tie him to a chair? Lock him in a room?
Unfortunately, some teachers and school staff DO use these methods of physical restraints and seclusion for violent students. A government study cited examples of horrific acts like:
- killing a 7-year old after holding him down for hours.
- duct taping and binding a 5-year old to the chair.
- a seclusion room that prompted one 13-year old’s suicide.
Other stories in a TASH.org report tell of more violence against children.
But no child, no matter what he or she has done, no matter how violent or misbehaving, ever deserves to be abused by anyone, especially not a trusted school professional. There are better methods for stopping his or her violent behavior, and there needs to be a law preventing this kind of abuse against children.
Which is why I support Senate Bill 2020, the “Keeping Kids Safe Act”, to ban:
- physical restraints except in emergency situations
- physical restraints that affect communication and breathing
- seclusion of children in locked rooms from which they cannot leave
Most of us can’t imagine what kinds of behavior might lead to the use of such egregious force so, let me share with you a few stories from teachers.
“A student became aggressive in the classroom next to mine, she was a young girl of around 13 who tried to throw a computer screen out of a window."
"I had to restrain a student in preschool. He would throw chairs at other students."
The best, safest, kindest way to restrain a violent child is a bear hug. Training teachers and staff is essential though. Here are a few more stories from teachers.
"I've done my fair share of restraining violent/ disturbed children (5 years old!) A bear hug was the safest for child to protect them from hurting self and others, but actually left adults vulnerable to kicking legs and biting on our arms."
"We were taught how to safely use wrap our bodies around them on the floor, making sure their arms were down as to not hurt them in anyway."
"I was trained through the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). I highly recommend all teachers attend a course whether or not they think they will have to restrain kids. The dynamic in classrooms across the country has changed dramatically. More children with severe disabilities or other challenges are mainstreamed in classrooms. I feel the trainings really prepare all teachers to handle explosive kids - your own and children you teach."
"The CPI restraint was safe for the child, though I still was often left with bruises, deep scratches, and pulled hair. Many instances before I was trained equalled bites (and tetanus shots) and lots of pulled hair that still doesn't look quite right even now."
(If you don’t think teachers like this one aren’t heroes I don’t know who would be!)
You might be shocked to learn that The American Association of School Administrators do not support this bill! I was. They argue that these laws are best left to the states.
I disagree. I think we must have a national law to protect children. Don’t you?
Email your two state Senators with your opinion. Go here to email them: http://1.usa.gov/Senat orhttp://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) has an email message you can use here. Or visit Wrights Law for more information and another example email.
Have you ever seen or taught violent children? Do you agree that no child should be harmed, no matter how violent?