Tom Watkins: Restraint needed on restraints | Battle Creek Enquirer |

Tom Watkins: Restraint needed on restraints | Battle Creek Enquirer |

It hurts to be tied up and left alone.
Today, in a Michigan school and in schools across America, children are being placed in physical restraints and inhumane seclusion.
These so called “treatment options” are degrading, barbaric, inappropriate, unnecessary, counter-therapeutic, harmful, and in the extreme, result in serious injury and even death. They should stop.
What makes this insidious behavior difficult to detect is that it is often out of sight of public view and, perversely, often sanctioned by parents, guardians, and credentialed professionals as a proper therapeutic technique meant to control or modify behavior. It is nearly always abusive, traumatic, and unnecessary.
While some school districts do not use it at all, it is abused in others, and there is no central state reporting mechanism to know for sure.
In Michigan, in the second decade of the 21st century, there are no policies or laws to stop it.
There is a need to make the general public and policymakers aware that these practices are still being carried out in far too many neighborhood public schools. But more important than simple awareness is the need to demonstrate it does not need to take place. People working with persons who have intellectual and developmental disabilities need training in the proper techniques for preventing the issues from escalating to a perceived need for such interventions.
There are examples of students being secluded and restrained in schools staffed with highly degreed professionals, yet this type of “intervention” is deemed unnecessary in that same person’s group home which is staffed with trained, high school educated para-professionals.
The first step in problem-solving is problem identification, particularly in the case of seclusion and restraint. Before even identifying the problem, parents, policy and lawmakers need to be convinced that this is a problem!
These same sanctioned behaviors taking place in some schools today, when done by parents in their own homes, would also constitute abuse.


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