New Campaign Aims To Curb Restraint And Seclusion
Disability advocates are looking to jump-start their efforts to end abusive restraint and seclusion practices in the nation’s schools with a campaign kicking off this week.
Organizers of the new effort known as “Stop Hurting Kids” say they hope to raise public awareness of the dangerous consequences often resulting from the use of restraint and seclusion techniques in the classroom.
They are also looking to spur a grassroots movement by asking supporters to sign up and take a series of weekly actions to learn about restraint and seclusion, advocate for policy change and share their stories, according to Jonathan Riethmaier of TASH, one of over two-dozen disability advocacy groups backing the new campaign.
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Other partner organizations include The Arc, the National Down Syndrome Society, the National Disability Rights Network and the Autism Society.
At a kickoff event Thursday evening in Washington, organizers plan to unveil a 27-minute documentary featuring individuals who experienced restraint and seclusion at school and their parents. Speakers at the event — which will be streamed online — are expected to include Michael Yudin, who heads the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education, as well as Larke Huang of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The film — which will be freely available on the campaign’s website following the premiere — was created by Dan Habib of the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability.
In recent years, the use of restraint and seclusion in the nation’s schools has come to the forefront with both government and advocacy group reports documenting numerous cases of abusive and even deadly incidents. Evidence suggests that students with disabilities are far more likely than their typically developing peers to be subjected to the practices. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion »)
Laws and regulations vary widely from state to state and efforts by advocates to press for federal standards have been unsuccessful.
Most recently, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would limit the use of restraint and seclusion and impose training requirements for school staff. However, no action on the measure is scheduled and there is no companion proposal in the U.S. Senate.