Help protect our kids from restraint and seclusion discipline methods #noRS

I’d heard the terms “restraint and seclusion” but never dug deeper to learn what they meant. Then I wrote about it for SheKnows.com, and the knowledge has been life-changing.

Restraint and seclusion methods originated as tactics to defuse a bonafide safety threat: a child threatening his/her own safety or the safety of others. But along the way, these inhumane methods became tools to address behavior issues. To date, more than 20 children have died at the hands of these brutal acts.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act is proposed legislation that would ban restraint and seclusion practices used mostly on children with special needs.

As mom of a child with Down syndrome, restraint and seclusion discipline tactics are among my worst nightmares, because in the world of education, folks are justifying them and applying them without proper training. My son, Charlie, is nonverbal. When he is hurt, he is unable to explain what hurts. We go through a litany of, “Do you have an ouchie here? How about here?” and never truly feel confident we’ve isolated the problem.

Now imagine if the ouchie is in his heart, because a beloved teacher has betrayed his trust and hurt him physically and emotionally.

No amount of bad behavior justifies locking a five-year-old girl in a dark closet, all alone. When she screamed to be let out to use the restroom, adults ignored her cries. The frightened little girl removed her favorite outfit and set it aside so when she couldn’t hold her urine any longer, the puddle wouldn’t touch her school clothes. That’s how her father, Bill Lichtenstein, found her.

Kari Wagner-Peck’s son was sobbing, red-faced and covered in sweat when she arrived at school early to find him strapped to a chair while his speech therapist read to him.

These are just two stories. I’ve learned of more than a dozen in the past few days. Parents never expect trusted educators to hurt their  children, but the fact is that it is happening and it needs to stop.

So, how can you help?

  • Tweet this issue from the rooftops, urging support of The Keeping All Students Safe Act and using hashtag #noRS
  • Use the links found in the SheKnows article linked above to identify your senators and representatives, then email them.

Not sure what to write?

  • Identify yourself as a registered voter in his/her state or district.
  • Ask for his/her support of the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
  • Explain why this issue is personal — why are you a proponent of this legislation?
  • Provide your contact information and request a call or email back. You owe it to your child to find out why your elected representatives do or do not support such an important proposed law.

If a child can’t feel safe at school, then that school is failing its community. Please speak out and help educate others on these archaic methods of discipline and the legislation that can make it stop. #noRS

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