Report: Seclusion, Restraints Can Cause Student Injuries, Death

In response to allegations of death and abuse at residential programs for troubled teens, the Government Accountability Organization (GAO) conducted an investigation of how seclusion and restraints were being used on school children. The GAO found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death related to the use of these methods during the past two decades.

Examples of these cases include a 7 year old purportedly dying after being held face down for hours by school staff, 5 year olds allegedly being tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape by their teacher and suffering broken arms and bloody noses, and a 13 year old reportedly hanging himself in a seclusion room after prolonged confinement.

According to a summary by the GAO, although it continues to receive new allegations from parents and advocacy groups, the organization could not find a single Web site, federal agency or other entity that collects information on the use of these methods or the extent of their alleged abuse.

GAO also examined the details of 10 restraint and seclusion cases in which there was a criminal conviction, a finding of civil or administrative liability, or a large financial settlement. The cases share the following common themes: they involved children with disabilities who were restrained and secluded, often in cases where they were not physically aggressive and their parents did not give consent; restraints that block air to the lungs can be deadly; teachers and staff in the cases were often not trained on the use of seclusions and restraints; and teachers and staff from at least five of the 10 cases continue to be employed as educators.

To read the full report,  click here.

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