Time for a Time Out: Why Are 40,000 Children So Harshly Disciplined in Public Schools?

If psychiatric facilities can eliminate the traumatic punishment techniques of isolation and restraint, why can't public schools?

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(UPDATED) Locked in cramped, windowless rooms, tied in body-restricting bags, denied food, water and bathroom access: all of this is happening not to patients in the overlooked back wards of state mental hospitals, but to children as young as 5 in American public schools.

In the 2009-10 school year, some 40,000 children were restrained or isolated as discipline for bad behavior — most of these students had physical, developmental or learning and behavioral needs — according to Department of Education data. That research was cited in a revealing op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times written by a father whose daughter was deeply traumatized by such treatment. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report also found “hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death related to the use of these methods on school children during the past two decades,” in both public and private schools.

Practices of restraint and isolation were long used to control resistant patients in psychiatric facilities. But following decades of tragedy and trauma — including hundreds of deaths of patients who were subjected to such treatment — these tactics are now heavily regulated. Federal law requires that the least restrictive measures always be deployed and bans the use of isolation and restraint outright in cases where the patient poses no danger to his or herself or others.  In psychiatric centers, using seclusion or restraint for punishment or discipline is illegal.

In fact, in much of Europe and in some U.S. psychiatric centers, restraints and isolation rooms have been eliminated entirely.

(MORE: How Childhood Trauma May Make the Brain Vulnerable to Addiction, Depression)

Yet there is no federal regulation, let alone an outright ban, of the disciplinary use of these tactics in U.S. public schools. Nor is there any requirement that educators be trained in the use of positive techniques; in many states, teachers may even add corporal punishment like beatings and paddling on top of restraint and isolation. These methods fail to change student behavior, and the result is a horrifyingly similar pattern of trauma, abuse and death among students that ultimately led psychiatry to strictly limit physical seclusion.

Investigative reporter Bill Lichtenstein described in the Times how he discovered the maltreatment of his 5-year-old daughter, Rose, who suffered from speech and language delays, but was otherwise characterized as a “model of age-appropriate behavior” by her preschool. In 2006, Rose’s kindergarten called her parents to come pick her up because she had taken off her clothing:

At school, her mother and I found Rose standing alone on the cement floor of a basement mop closet, illuminated by a single light bulb. There was nothing in the closet for a child — no chair, no books, no crayons, nothing but our daughter standing naked in a pool of urine, looking frightened as she tried to cover herself with her hands. On the floor lay her favorite purple-striped Hanna Andersson outfit and panties.

Rose got dressed and we removed her from the school. We later learned that Rose had been locked in the closet five times that morning. She said that during the last confinement, she needed to use the restroom but didn’t want to wet her outfit. So she disrobed. Rather than help her, the school called us and then covered the narrow door’s small window with a file folder, on which someone had written “Don’t touch!”

We were told that Rose had been in the closet almost daily for three months, for up to an hour at a time. At first, it was for behavior issues, but later for not following directions. Once in the closet, Rose would pound on the door, or scream for help, staff members said, and once her hand was slammed in the doorjamb while being locked inside.

(NOTE: The New York Times has just appended an editor’s note to this story, saying that the child’s mother said in a deposition in a case related to the incident that her daughter was clothed when her parents retrieved her. The closet in question was actually located on a mezzanine floor, not the basement. The fact that she was isolated in a closet and wet herself is not contested).

(MORE: Human Rights Watch: Hundreds of Thousands Still Tortured in the Name of Drug Treatment)

Not only is there no government regulation of the use of isolation and restraint in schools, but there is also no requirement that parents be informed when it occurs. The use of these tactics has risen in public schools as children with developmental and learning disabilities have been increasingly included in mainstream classrooms. But sadly, their teachers are often not given enough training and support to use safer and more effective, positive disciplinary approaches.

These harsh methods have already resulted in death. In one case, described in testimony [PDF] given at Congressional hearings on the issue in 2009, foster mother Toni Price recounted the last day in the life of 14-year-old Cedric Napoleon. On the morning of March 7, 2002, as Cedric left for school, she said, her foster son had beamed, “You know I love you, Ma.”

Cedric had been abused and neglected from the beginning of his life: as a little child, he’d resorted to rummaging through the garbage to feed himself. And like many neglected children, he was slight and small for his age. Despite his size and history of starvation, however, his 8th-grade teacher found it acceptable to use food deprivation as a disciplinary tactic.  He had never been aggressive or violent.

(MORE: Increasingly, Internet Activism Helps Shutter Abusive ‘Troubled Teen’ Boot Camps)

By 2:30 p.m., on the day Cedric died, he had been denied his lunch for more than two hours because he stopped working on his assignments. The boy stood up and tried to walk out of class, but his 230-lb. teacher threw him on the floor and sat on him when he resisted being forced back into his chair.

Panicked, Cedric said he couldn’t breathe. Price testified that the teacher “snapped, ‘If you can speak, you can breathe.’” Soon, the boy could do neither. By the time an ambulance was called, the Cedric was dead.

Over the centuries, psychiatrists learned that restraint and isolation are harmful and rarely necessary — and that simply allowing their widespread use is what what actually made these practices seem essential and important for discipline. But by prioritizing the effort to do away with them, facilities can often eliminate seclusion and restraint completely; many psychiatric institutions in the U.S. have now moved from restraining patients multiple times a week to using the tactic only once or twice a year. All such facilities report improvements in the health and morale of both patients and staff as a result: restraint and seclusion tend to traumatize not only the victims, but also those who must impose the punishment, as well as those who witness the related violence.

(MORE: Treating Addiction: A Top Doc Explains Why Kind Love Beats Tough Love)

If psychiatric centers can do without restraint or isolation, there’s no reason schools should need them. Congress should ban isolation rooms and the use of restraint tactics in all schools, public and private, including “troubled teen” boot camps and wilderness programs, whose disciplinary tactics are also unregulated and have caused children’s deaths. Corporal punishment is banned in institutions housing the elderly, criminals and psychiatric patients, so it should be banned in schools as well.

Moreover, all teachers should be trained in positive behavioral techniques that have been shown to improve behavior in students with or without special needs, and reduce the need for extreme measures. If children display ongoing behavior problems that are so severe that they don’t respond to positive approaches, they need to be helped by specialists, not secretly subjected to repeated and potentially traumatic punishment.

As your elementary school history teacher probably taught you, if you don’t learn from your past, you are condemned to repeat it. We can’t continue to allow schools to resurrect the torturous history of maltreatment in the mentally ill in our most vulnerable children.

MORE: ‘Shock’ School Trial: Where Is the Evidence that Abuse Helps Treat Autism?
Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at TIME.com. Find her on Twitter at @maiasz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME Healthland’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIMEHealthland.

54 comments
RobertSF
RobertSF

A better question is why are so many American children so biologically defective? Why do we have skyrocketing rates of ADD, Asperger's, autism, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, and an endless list of disorders? The answer to that is not nicer teachers. Those dysfunctional kids are going to grow up into dysfunctional adults. We need to find out why this is happening in the first place.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

This article is AWESOME!! And it is about time the abuse suffered by these children is coming out!!!!!!

 

My child was locked in a prison cell (with no windows, just a slit, kinda like solitary confinment) - cold, small, grey, no furniture -- and he was locked there for up to 6 hours a day for a period of FOUR YEARS before I found out.  They didn't tell the parents, they HID it from the parents (sound proffed rooms) -- I called the Department of Ed to report, and they wouldn't take the case because they said the school my son went to was "approved" .... they refused to investigate.

AND THE OTHER PARENTS AT THE SCHOOL HAVE NO IDEA!!!!!!

THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!!!! THANK YOU FOR REPORTING THIS!!!!!

Thank you Maia, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

OTHER PARENTS NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!

Talendria
Talendria

Something about this story doesn't sound right.  How many times was your son locked up?  How many total hours did he spend in that room?  How can the school justify that behavior?  How did you not find out about it for four years?  I'm shocked that no other parent or staff member noticed what was going on and reported it.  That's just one of the reasons parent volunteerism is so important; teachers can't get away with child abuse if we're watching them.  I find it hard to believe that the ACLU or a similar organization wouldn't wage war against the school district on your behalf, because what your son endured was truly egregious.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Yes, it was awful, and no it should not add up -- but do concentration camps?  People in Germany had an idea of what was going on in the concetration camps but they didn't WANT to know about it, so they dismissed it -- just as you are trying to dismiss me!

HOW DID I NOT KNOW?!  WHY ON EARTH WOULD I SUSPECT?!?! 

My son has Asbergers, HIGH function (before the school got there hands on him) -- he became worse and worse during those years. 

The atorney I found dropped the case after a couple years when no other parents came forward.

The school did not allow children to give their phone numbers to other children -- they said it caused problems in past -- so I never met any of the other parents.  This is what they call an "out of district" school.

My son was locked up hundreds of times -- I saw the files.

The school said they were putting him in a "room to calm down" -- it was solitary confinement -- no windows, cement, grey + and yes it was cold -- when I saw it, last day that he went to school there.

The school STILL DOES THIS!!!! And how do the other parents know?!?!

I tried to report to Americans with Disabilities, but they would not take my son's case (they receive government funding)

THIS ARTICLE IS AWESOME, AWESOME -- FABULOUS!!!!

People NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE SCHOOLS ARE DOING TO YOUR CHILDREN WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION!!!!!

Talendria
Talendria

I'm not trying to dismiss you. You're very emotional, and I'm trying to understand what actually happened. Schools are supposed to provide a time-out spot for kids who have autism. It's not supposed to be a punishment so much as a sensory-free environment where they can regain their equilibrium. It sounds like the school was in an old building with substandard facilities, so they put your son in a broom closet, and I agree that's unacceptable. The best thing we can do as parents is get involved in our kids' education, or as I sometimes say, crawl up the teacher's *** and stay there all year. Make it your business to know what's happening to him during the day. Make the teacher aware that you won't tolerate any unkindness whatsoever. If you sense unkindness, do whatever it takes to transfer your child to another school. As citizens, we need to support our public schools by donating time and money, so kids don't get locked up in cinderblock closets. As voters, we need to send a clear message that unions can't protect lazy, hateful teachers. I'm sorry your son went through such a traumatic experience. My son went through something similar, and it was heartbreaking to watch him wither before my very eyes. Once I found a welcoming, supportive environment for him, he became happy and successful again.

Helync1
Helync1

I have helped in classrooms at my 5 year old's school, and the chaos there was amazing. Granted there were too many kids in one classroom, 24 to be exact, but the kids would not respond to the teachers giving them directions. The kids were disrespectful, disobedient, angry when they didn't get their way, throwing temper tantrums, etc. The main problem was with the parents that took no responsibility at home to teach these children how to respond to necessary authority. The teachers have no real authority and counting 1, 2, 3 until they obey doesn't work. Parents send their unruly, undisciplined kids to school or day care expecting them to work some kind of "magic" on them. It is NOT the teachers responsibility to teach respect and obedience to proper authority. That should be done at home before they go to school! The teachers would have conferences with the parents, but not much changed. How are the teachers supposed to "discipline" kids and teach them when parents won't or don't know how? I agree that the supposed "discipline" addressed  in the article was extremely inappropriate, but the teachers don't have the resources to handle kids with what are called "special needs" kids in a regular classroom. Yet, parents insist it is their "right" to put their kids there. I think this is so disrespectful of the other kids, their parents, and the teachers because we expect them to do what parents should be doing. 

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Oh, really?

My son (starting at the age of 6 years old) was locked in a cold, small cement cell, with no furniture and no windows for up to 6 hrs a day for a period of 4 years!!  AND THEY DIDN'T TELL ME THAT THEY WERE DOING IT!!!

I am SOOOOOO tired of ANY teacher who complains about the kids, if you don't like kids GET A DIFFERENT JOB!!!!!!  To LOCK A CHILD IN A SMALL, COLD CELL AT THE AGE OF SIX ISN'T OKAY ON ANY PLANET!!!!  And that your response when you read about it would be to complain about how the kid behaved?!!?!?  Do you think you have a right to lock those kids up?!?!?  Without a court hearing without the parents knowing?!?!?!

If they couldn't handle my son, they SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME!! 

They even had the prison cells sound proffed so the parents couldn't hear the children scream when they visited the school .....

Talendria
Talendria

"The use of these tactics has risen in public schools as children with developmental and learning disabilities have been increasingly included in mainstream classrooms."

Talendria
Talendria

Michelle, I'm equally outraged about what happened to your 6-year-old son, as would be just about everyone on this site.  If you'll read more carefully, you'll see that we're not defending the extreme punishments mentioned in the article.  Everyone agrees those are inappropriate.  We're simply saying that mainstream classrooms aren't designed to accommodate children with severe behavioral problems.  At my son's school, four violent boys were allowed to remain in the classroom despite repeated attacks on both teachers and students.  How can anyone learn in that environment?  How is a teacher supposed to discipline a child who punches or throws things at her?  Most teachers lack the educational equivalent of combat training; they have no idea how to respond to those acts of aggression, and they're worried about getting sued if they physically touch the child.  As I said below, children should never be treated in a cruel or disrespectful manner; however, they also can't be allowed to hurt themselves or anyone else.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Talendria,

This article is ABOUT CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED!!!

It in NO WHERE says what these children did!!!!

What on earth do those "four violent boys" have to do with children who have been locked up in these seclusion rooms?!?!?

It SOUNDS like you are defending these teachers.  It SOUNDS like you are asuming that these children acted up and required this?!?!

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU THINK THAT THESE CHILDREN DESERVED TO BE PUNISHED AND LOCKED IN A CELL!!!!

They were locking my son up for things like forgetting to raise his hand before he stood up!!!!!

This article doesn't say what the solution is --- is SAYS ABUSING THESE KIDS IS WRONG!  And, sorry, but it does sound like you are defending it because you immediately jump to the conclusion that SOMEHOW these kids wouldn't have been locked in these cells (LOCKING 5 AND 6 YEAR OLDS IN PRISION CELLS!!!!) unless they deserved it and that it is somehow the fault of the child that they were!

It sounds like you are saying that the child DESERVED to be punished!

Sorry, but your response to this article is flat out wrong!

This article is AWESOME and I am soooooooooo glad that gentlemen whoes poor 5 year old duaghter that was locked up has come foward!

Talendria
Talendria

This is a thorny issue because there's fault on both sides.  Obviously schools shouldn't be allowed to treat children in a cruel or disrespectful manner at any time or for any reason, and anyone who does so should be prosecuted.  However, parents need to take responsibility for acknowledging their child's behavioral problems and enrolling them in an appropriate classroom.  Too many parents deny their children's psychopathy and insist on mainstreaming, which places teachers and school administrators in the untenable position of trying to serve that child's needs without neglecting his peers.

Belisarius85
Belisarius85

I agree wholeheartedly, but simply saying that parents need to take responsibility does nothing to achieve any actual results. 

In many cases, children with severe behavioral issues  have negligent parents, and no amount of public scolding will change these people's ways. Even holding the parents legally responsible for their children's outbursts will accomplish little, and may even invite retributive abuse upon the children from "punished" parents.

Is there any other solution besides effectively writing these kids off as a lost cause and keeping them away from the good students?

Talendria
Talendria

When parents abdicate their responsibility entirely, it's probably easier for the school to place the child in an appropriate program.  I was talking about the parents who insist on mainstreaming violent children.  Placing behaviorally challenged children in a 25-kid classroom is a mistake for all concerned.  The teacher can't teach, the children can't learn, and the disruptive child develops a low self-esteem because he's always in trouble.  Placing that child in a small special education classroom isn't writing him off; it's positioning him for success.  It's a mistake to view mainstream classrooms as comprising good students.  Behaviorally challenged kids can be equally good students if you place them in an environment that makes them feel safe and comfortable.  They often have sensory issues coupled with poor communication skills, which means noise and confusion cause them to act out.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

The fact that you would defend anyone in anyway associated with this article shows how cold hearted you are. (or hopfully, you are just misinformed).

It says NOTHING about the actions of the children in this article, only that they WERE LOCKED IN A COLD CELL!!!!

DID THESE CHILDREN ATTACK THE TEACHER WITH A KNIFE OR TRY TO MURDER SOMEONE?!?!?!    NO!!!!!!!!!!  (they would lock my son up when he would forget to raise his hand)

MY SON DIDN'T DERSERVE TO BE LOCKED UP -- AND YOUR DEFENDING THE TEACHERS WHO DO THIS IS OUT RIGHT CRAZY!!!!!!!!

HOW IS THAT OKAY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES?!?!?!!?!?

The teachers involved with locking these kids up didn't care about or love the kids!    The parents (for the most part) DO love their kids ---I DO NOT FEEL BAD FOR THESE TEACHERS ---> if you don't like kids, and don't like it when children misbehave (and forget to raise their hand) then DON'T BE A TEACHER.

The parents are FORCED to deal with these schools -- yes, a single parent like myself cannot afford to have private tutors but I still have to pay taxes --------->

Give me a credit in my taxes, the same amount that the school spends and I would set something up to take care of him!!!! Something that didn't involve torture!!!!

Did they EVER TELL ME THAT THEY WERE LOCKING HIM IN A CELL!?!?!?

Did they EVER TELL ME THAT THEY DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE HIM!?!?

Furthermore, IS A LITTLE, 6 YEAR OLD CHILD EVER SO DANGEROUS THAT HE NEEDS TO BE LOCKED UP --- EVER?!?!?! 

They had NO EXCUSE for doing this to my son -- and the fact that you defend this, defend these teachers who do this?!?!  A WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF IT WAS YOUR CHILD THEY DID IT TO!?!?!?!?!?!  HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF YOUR BOSS COULD LOCK YOU IN A COLD HARD CELL WHENEVER THEY FELT LIKE IT!??!?!?!? 

If the teachers cannot handle the children, they have a responsiblity to SAY THAT.  OR get a different job. 

The school my son was at sound proffed the prison cells so the parents didn't hear the children scream and wouldn't know what was going on!

THIS IS IN NO WAY the fault of the parents, no WAY.  Not the fault of the parents, not the fault of the child.  It is the fault of the school for putting PRISON CELLS IN THE SCHOOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Period, the end.

Megan Pyles
Megan Pyles

This article is extremely inaccurate, I work in behavior modification in Florida schools and there is an abundant amount of legislation that mandates reporting and circumstances under which restraint and isolation can be utilized.  It is a shame that Time has reporters who are not adequately checking facts on their stories.  I had thought it was a reputable magazine...

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

Another Example of this horrifying phenomena of abuse against kids is when a child was tied to a four-point restraint board and shocked 31 times over nearly 7 hours. This was in a residential treatment center/school in Massachusetts. It was caught on tape, and yes, you can watch it (link below). This is not a-typical in this facility, the only one in the US and maybe the world that openly admits to electric shock as punishment (not to be confused with ECT). Don't believe me?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Watch the Video that leaked here (clip within the Fox News affiliate's report):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... 

Other examples of abusive "schools" include World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (Utah-based with International and States-based facilities), that among countless other things (rape, negligent behavior resulting in death, and so much more) locked kids in dog cages, tied spread eagle, while deprived of food and water, in one facility.

Current lawsuit with over 350 plantiffs: 

http://www.wturley.com/Recent-...

Photo of the dog-cages: http://s3-media2.ak.yelpcdn.co... handful of the abuses outlined in WWASP lawsuit:b. Unsanitary living conditions;c. Denial of adequate food;d. Denial of proper medical and dental care and treatment;e. Denial of an even minimally sufficient education;f. Exposure to extreme (hot and cold) temperatures for long periods of time;g. Forced physical exercise beyond their physical capacity;h. Kicked, beaten, thrown and slammed to the ground;i. Bound and tied by hands and/or feet;j. Chained and locked in dog cages;k. Forced to lie in, or wear, urine and feces as one method of punishment;l. Forced to clean and scrub toilets and floors with their toothbrush;m.Forced to sleep on cold concrete floors, boxspring, or plywood used as a bed with     no bedding or linens or with just a tattered and torn sleeping bag;n. Forced to carry heavy bags of sand around their neck or logs throughout the dayover many days;o. Forced to eat their own vomit;p. Sexual abuse, which included forced sexual relations and acts of fondling andmasturbation performed on them;q. Emotional abuse by subjecting student Plaintiffs to near-total parental and societalisolation.  Personal visits, correspondence, and telephone calls were eitherforbidden or discouraged; r. Because of the near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education,many student Plaintiffs were totally unequipped to enter outside society;

This behavior is not unusual. It is not rare. 

FamilyT
FamilyT

Corporal punishment in schools  is alive and well, allowed and often encouraged  in nineteen U.S. states.  That statistic is not three and a half years old, it's TODAY'S statistic, Jen Cord. Those nineteen states, mostly in the South, allow school personnel to hit schoolkids, most of the time with paddles, with virtual impunity.

I cannot abide anyone who  supports such inhumane behavior and child abuse.

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

Let me corroborate this statement about "19 US States":

Nineteen states have no laws or regulations related to the use of seclusions or restraints in schools. Seven states place some restrictions of the use of restraints, but do not regulate seclusions… while nineteen require parents to be notified after restraints have been used. Two states require annual reporting on the use of restraints 

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

Belisarius85
Belisarius85

A couple of extreme examples do not make a case against discipline. The perpetrators in these examples clearly went far, far overboard and should be punished.

That being said, if we are afraid to punish children in school for repeated bad behavior, it will ruin all of the children's lessons. If you want to try some of your so-called "positive" disciplining techniques, at least remove the trouble child from the class room so they cannot disrupt everyone else's learning.

If children are repeatedly disrupted, permanently remove the child from the classroom and hold the parent responsible.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Same thing happened to my child, and I CANNOT BELIEVE that you would defend these people??!?!

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

These are not isolated cases:

During 2005 alone, 33 states reported 1,619 staff members involved in incidents of abuse in residential programs. GAO could not identify a more concrete number of allegations because it could not locate a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects comprehensive nationwide data.   

In their 2009 report they say: 

Nineteen states have no laws or regulations related to the use of seclusions or restraints in schools. Seven states place some restrictions of the use of restraints, but do not regulate seclusions… while nineteen require parents to be notified after restraints have been used. Two states require annual reporting on the use of restraints

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

Two more reports and some congressional testimony if you would like them:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... (VIDEO of testimony to US Congress by Federal Investigator Greg Kutz)

Now, Maia says, "Congress should ban isolation rooms and the use of restraint tactics in all schools, public and private, including “troubled teen” boot camps and wilderness programs" and "If children display ongoing behavior problems that are so severe that they don’t respond to positive approaches, they need to be helped by specialists, not secretly subjected to repeated and potentially traumatic punishment." 

She does not say to never discipline. What she is suggesting is hardly radical or controversial.  Even the Department of Health and Human Services (National Institutes

of Health) says that "programs limited to scare tactics...toughness"

are largely ineffective:

http://consensus.nih.gov/2004/... did she neglect to prove that the cases she highlighted were not a-typical. She explicitly pointed out that, "A 2009 Government Accountability Office report also found 'hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death related to the use of these methods on school children during the past two decades,'" This is not isolated, this is not unusual, the results are often lethal (see GAO reports), the measures the suggests are not extreme, and they are urgent. 

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Rick, you are right, the numbers are far, far worse than those reported cases would indicate.

The Department of Ed wouldn't even take my son's case down because they said that the school that he went to had been visited and "approved" ....

KidsRpeople2
KidsRpeople2

See shocking brutally violet injuries to U.S. Schoolchildren K-12 iflicted by school employees, mandatory child abuse reporters, by hitting them with thick wooden paddles to inflict pain as punishment for minor infractions, known as School Corporal Punishment, Illegal in Schools in 31 U.S. States at YouTube Video Trailer for Documentary Movie "The Board of Education" by Jared Abrams.  Federal Bill H.R. 3027 "The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act" is due to expire again in U.S. Education Committee this December.  Cost to Abolish $0

Janice
Janice

How absolutely disgusting this is. While I believe these are not every day or ordinary events, I hope these perpetrators are punished.Perhaps they need to experience what they have so readily dished out on helpless children.

CarB1
CarB1

The problem is that there is very little legislation or board policies to protect children within schools from what is typically considered abusive outside of schools, especially when it comes to special education.  Parents need to be notified what discipline was used, each time it is used.  That should be in all the policies and state law.  People are likely trained in how to use restraints, but not trained in what the physical, mental, and emotional dangers are when they are used.  With that many extreme cases reported cases by the GAO, how many more go unreported because many children did not or cannot communicate sufficiently?

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

Two part answer to your question, "how many more go unreported because many children did not or cannot communicate sufficiently?"

In 2007 the GAO said that, "GAO could not identify a more concrete number

of allegations because it could not locate a single Web site, federal agency,

or other entity that collects comprehensive nationwide data." In 2009 they essentially repeated that, "Although

GAO continues to receive new allegations [in addition to the 'thousands' found

in ‘07]  from parents and advocacy

groups, GAO 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."

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d... kids ability to communicate, it's beyond that. In the case of teenagers, facilities instruct parents to expect to be "manipulated". Because correspondence is strictly censored in residential facilities (typically boarding schools for "troubled" kids), whenever teens try to communicate what has happened to them, they can be severely punished and parents are often insulated against belief (example from Oregon Department of Human Service investigation of Aspen Education's Mount Bachelor Academy: students

were told not to divulge any aspect of the “emotional growth” curriculum during

telephone calls, and both content and ability to call were used as a

disciplinary measure. http://www.mentalhealthportlan... ). By the time teens are done they are often either afraid, or suffer from Stockholm, among a million other troublesome factors. 

  Additionally troubling are "exit plans" many facilities have. A child has been socially cut off, often not allowed to speak hardly at all for often upwards of 2 or 3 years, deprived of adequate education (again, see GAO reports). They have no money, no friends, no contacts, no support. The exit contract usually states that a child will have to choose. Behave and stay at home (often designed to be impossible, in order for the facility to profit from a return trip), leave with no money and no skills, or return to the facility. I've known women that were raped that willingly returned to the hands of their abusers because they could not make it on their own, and they knew it. 

 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

This is ridiculous.  Isolated cases of criminal behavior are presented as standard procedure in public schools.  I know better.  This should be edited and placed in the crime section, not here.  Again, ridiculous, absurd, nonsense.

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

If you read the report she mentioned from the GAO you would see this is not isolated at all! The 2009 report may have said "hundreds"  but in 2007, from private entities alone it said, "1,619

staff members" in one year, and only from the 33 States that checked in, and the GAO admits this is likely a lacking number. Review the reports. Here are four of them (there are at least five, but I'm missing one for some reason). 

GAO Investigation Documents/Video:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d... (07)

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d... (08)

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d... (08)

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d... (09)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

(VIDEO of testimony to US Congress by Federal Investigator Greg Kutz)

DOJ says 12% of 9,000 kids report sexual abuse, as many as

30% report rape in some facilities:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01... are just two of the massive facebook groups devoted to stopping abuse in facilities. The one with 1500 members is devoted to only one! Most of the members have been abused.FACEBOOK Pages:

http://www.facebook.com/groups... (STOP WWASP)

http://www.facebook.com/groups... (Troubled

Teen SuperGroup)

Now granted, the problem is not as massive or studied in your run-of-the-mill public school, but in Missouri (for example) there are no accreditation, approval or licensing requirements for private schools at all! "Therapeutic boarding schools" are almost indistinguishable from regular schools to the government. http://www.edchoice.org/Docume... problem needs solving, it's not acceptable that 19 States have no laws at all against isolation or restraint, and neither does the Federal government (see 2009 and 2007 reports). 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Thanks for the links; I will check them out when I get a chance.

But this article is about public schools, not private programs, and that is what I was addressing.  In fact, the premise presented is that public schools are deficient and other programs are not.   In regard to the public school system, I stand by what I posted.  Maybe information in your links will change my mind, but based on what you say now, probably not.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Former,

Ricky is right, the number of cases are far, far worse than those reported -- the Department of Education wouldn't even take the case of my son (they used seclusion on him for up to 6 hrs a day for 4 years without my knowledge) as they said that they had visited the school and it had been "approved" .... wouldn't even take a report from me on the incident!

Jen Cord
Jen Cord

This article takes a very narrow view of discipline and highlights two extreme cases, both of which were abusive and, in any school system I am aware of, be against board  policy and state law.  Many school districts are adopting programs to help prevent discipline issues from starting.  We use "Responsive Classrooms" in my school district. Before publishing an article with research that is 3+ years old, you should research what is being done today to rectify problems in the past.  That way, instead of leaving the article in a doomed, dramatic fashion, you could accurately state was is being done in 2012.  

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

THREE WORDS

Privatize, privatize, privatize.

Accountability and responsibility. Not union bureaucrat excuses.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

You have a gift for reducing a questionable premise beyond the realm of rational thought.  I rest my case on your "proof".  You a full of it, Cmdr, sir.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Cmdr Casey, I'm not a school teacher, although unlike you, I do have experience in public education.  I can only hope that you had more competence in steering your boats than you do about public education, but I would suspect that you had competent people serving you in misery.

Your military has been privatized with horrible results, and you still don't have a clue.  Hope you are doing well on our countries' socialist  dole to your sorry existence.  

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

Dear Mr. School Teacher: you and your teacher union buddies ought to have to RE-APPLY for your jobs, today.

Free the children - PRIVATIZE.

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

It's worse in private facilities, if anything. The GAO reports in 08 and 07 specifically target ONLY private facilities, when I said in a previous comment that, "During

2005 alone, 33 states reported 1,619 staff members involved in incidents of

abuse in residential programs" that was ONLY in relation to private entities. Public ones were not even included. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

My proof: at a private school, such morons get FIRED or ARRESTED.

Duh.

Jeanne Kalvar
Jeanne Kalvar

 You think this doesn't happen at private schools?

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

I suppose it might still happen in a private school ... but in my son's  case (he was locked in prison cell for up to 6hrs a day for about 4 years without me knowing it), if it was a private school, I am certain that the government agencies who oversee this type of thing might have to responded to my complaints ... as it was they asked me to go call some other government agency!

 ... so yeah, I agree with Cmdr, it probably would have been better ...

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

At a private school, such morons get FIRED or ARRESTED.

Duh.

Janice Wright
Janice Wright

Ms. Cord,

I am the mother of a non-verbal boy and walked in to find him restrained in a prone position with his hands strapped down on his back. Though in MD all of what was done to him was illegal according to state law. The school claimed they were transporting him and the 3 straps that held him down were for his  "safety". We later discovered that he had a torn tendon in his shoulder. Those that have the authority to up hold the law is more interested in protecting the school system and those that did this to him including, the school psychologist, behavior specialist and physical therapist, will walk away with nothing being done to them. Children have been dragged out of the school and onto the sidewalk by their feet by the previous principal. Schools are more interested in protecting themselves then protecting the children they serve. I wish more parents were aware and on guard so they can protect their children. If you would have asked me two years ago if this is was possible, I would have said absolutely not. Now, it's a whole different story. The stories are coming out and it's a good thing. You can't fix a problem if you don't acknowledge it's going on. Do you want to know what my son did? He sat down. He didn't want to walk into school, that is it. This all happened in Oct. 2011 at John Archer School in Harford County, MD.

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

Janice,

Thank you for sharing about your child -- they did the same thing to my son.  Up to 6 hrs a day over a period of four years before I found out.

 .... and the other parents at the school still don't know.  Thank heavens this articles is being written -- it is VERY wide spread and VERY common..

You would be surprised how many schools have these rooms!!!!  And if they aren't doing it, then why do they need the rooms? 

People are in a state of denial, they don't want to admit that this can happen in the United States ... it is perfectly midevil!

Talendria
Talendria

Isn't there some kind of recourse for physical abuse resulting in injury?  Anyone who would treat a child that way shouldn't be working with children at all.  Having gotten away with that behavior once, they'll almost certainly do it again.

I think we need an impeachment process for public school teachers and administrators.  My son was emotionally abused by his elementary school music teacher for six years, and despite my best efforts she never got fired or even disciplined as far as I know.  I went so far as to hire an attorney, but he warned that there are very few circumstances under which you can sue a school district.  Public schools need to stop protecting abusive teachers because they give the entire profession a bad name.

Jen Cord
Jen Cord

Please, don't misunderstand me.  I know that abuse like this happens and that even one instance is one too many.  My problem with the article is that the title on the link asks "Is Public School Discipline Too Harsh" which leads a reader to believe that this type of behavior is the accepted norm.  I was trying to point out that these incidents, like the one that unfortunately happened to your son, should be treated like the exception to the rule--because they are.  It is insulting to the rest of the educators in my profession to treat this as if it is typical.  

MichelleKelly
MichelleKelly

But Jen,

Unfortunately it is the norm in some areas ... this SAME thing happened to my son. AND THE SHOOL IS STILL DOING IT TO OTHER CHILDREN!!! AND THE PARENTS DONT KNOW!!!!!!

Four up to 6 hours a day, they locked my son in a small, grey cement cell, no windows, nothing but the floor to sit on, and they did it for FOUR years before I found out.

And, guess what?  I complained to the Dept of Education, they told me to call DCYF, I complained to DCYF, they told me to call the Dept of Ed.  In the end, I contacted over 6 gov offices --- but they didn't want to do anything against another government agency (ie the school).  My son is special needs, so I called Americans Disabilties adovactes, but they told me this wasn't a case that they would take (they received gov funding).

So YES the article is SPOT on, and YES it is good that people realized that the school is doing this without letting the parents know what is going on.  This IS HORRIBLE, there is never an excuse ever to lock a 6 year old little boy in a cell for 6 hrs, EVER -- and NOT let the a parent know?!?

And it is STILL going on, those schools still have those rooms, they are still doing it.  They tumbed their nose at me when I complained!

How can you -- how CAN YOU DEFEND THIS!?!?!?

John Leaderbrand
John Leaderbrand

You missed the point of the article. If this practice is typical, the use of isolation or restraints, then abuse will be widespread. Sorry that it is insulting to educators, but it's the human condition. It's like police shooting innocents. If police didn't have guns, the shootings wouldn't happen. The problem is, police require guns to protect themselves and properly do their jobs. However, for educators the thing with the restraints and isolation- they aren't necessary for the job. As long as educators use methods that are proven not only ineffectual, but harmful, with the very real possibility of serious abuse, then those educators deserve to be insulted for it.

Police rightfully deserve scorn when guns are used when tazers, pepper spray, and hell, even talking would be a better result with less casualties. Educators deserve scorn for using isolation and restraints when counseling, detention, talking, etc would produce better result with less casualties. It is the same for any career that gives power of the lives of others.

Ricky Linder
Ricky Linder

It's not isolated, it may not be the norm, but neither is it unusual. See my post in response to Belisarius85 for more sourcing. But consider this from the Government Accountability Office (GAO):

During 2005 alone, 33 states reported 1,619 staff members involved in incidents of abuse in residential programs. GAO could not identify a more concrete number of allegations because it could not locate a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects comprehensive nationwide data.   http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

“GAO found no federal laws restricting the use of seclusion

and restraints in public and private schools and widely divergent laws at the

state level.”

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d... certainly, it is far worse in residential treatment centers than the typical public school, but the problem is massive.

SSGjughead
SSGjughead

I didn't read the article and I"ll go ahead and make my statement. They need their AZZEs beaten daily, if needed. That's the way it was when I went to school. A stranger was subject to make an "on the spot" correction if you got out of line. Children "should be seen and not heard," the principal would give you a few strokes, then mom, then dad would tear you up. When one realizes that everyone around him or her is liable correct them, they control themselves. We seldom got out of line, though every truck in the student parking lot had a shotgun, rifle or pistol in it no one was shot, we didn't think evil back in those days, evil is new. Children should fear authority, this breeds respect. Or, you could listen to Liberal's who will tell you that children are people too and should be seen and heard, which is what got us here today. Who cares what they think our job is to fill their heads with common sense and respect, which is lacking these days, everywhere. 

dmbfan93933
dmbfan93933

Your post is evidence that evil is NOT new.

Janice
Janice

 Well I surely hope you do not work in the education system. Crawl back into your cave and stay there, please.

MonaLisa1998
MonaLisa1998

 Please tell us this comment is some sort of bad joke.

Jeanne Kalvar
Jeanne Kalvar

 

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt