Using love, patience and kindness to treat troubled young schoolchildren is apparently a thing of the past in America, as teachers now routinely throw students, many of them special needs, into windowless “seclusion” rooms lined with cold, hard concrete floors.
A quick Google image search for seclusion rooms, also called “recovery rooms” or “scream rooms,” results in a variety of images, many of which resemble eerie prison cells enclosed with thick steel doors.
Efforts by NPR and ProPublica to investigate this outrageous practice uncovered 267,000 instances nationwide throughout the 2011-2012 school year during which students were locked and restrained in seclusion rooms, with more than 75 percent of those cases involving children with disabilities, according to information provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data.
In more than 160,000 instances, students were restrained. About 7,6000 of those cases used mechanical restraints. In most scenarios, this type of controversial disciplinary action was used on children who are “autistic or labeled emotionally disturbed,” possibly as a result of the damaging effects of neurotoxic ingredients in vaccines.
The 2011-2012 school year was the first time reporting seclusion and restraint was mandatory for schools, reports Texas Monthly. However, in many cases, schools were not required to notify parents when their children were placed in scream rooms unless the staff had to physically restrain them.
Texas Public Radio reports:
Sometimes the students will get upset; they might even get violent. To calm or control them, teachers and aides might isolate them in a separate room, which is a practice known as seclusion. Or they might restrain them by holding or hugging them, or pinning them to the ground, or by using mechanical restraints, such as a belt or even handcuffs.
Special needs student suffers from broken hand after being forced inside a scream room by faculty members
A separate 2009 investigation by the Government Accountability Office also concluded that scream rooms are used more frequently on special needs students and, in extreme cases, may result in injury or death, as with the case of 13-year-old Carson Luke.
While attending a school for the disabled in Chesapeake, Virginia, Carson, who suffers from autism, was pinned down and drug through the hallway before teachers locked him in a concrete scream room, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
The incident occurred in 2011 after Carson had “an aggressive outburst.” As faculty members forced him inside, they broke his hand when it got trapped in the heavy door.
“The wound was so deep the bone was exposed and he required surgery,” according to reports. School workers reportedly turned on ventilation fans in an attempt to drown out his screaming.
Documents released by the Department of Education reveal that teachers also use handcuffs, bungee cords and duct tape to restrain students. Data show that Carson’s school used seclusion 559 times and restraint 177 times in 2011, the same year the autistic teen was injured.
“His physical wounds have healed. The emotional ones are still with us.”
A bill aimed at limiting the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools was passed by the Virginia General Assembly and is expected to be signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, making the state the 33rd to govern the use of such controversial disciplinary techniques, many of which could be considered abusive.
Under the new law, Virginia’s state Board of Education is required to create new regulations for governing the use of seclusion and restraint and must be consistent with 15 principles developed by the U.S. Department of Education.
Some of those principles include training teachers and staff on the safe use of techniques and alternative measures, notifying parents when seclusion and restraint are used and only using said measures when children’s behavior becomes dangerous to themselves or others.
As far as establishing federal standards on the use of seclusion and restraint, little progress has been made despite repeated attempts by Congress, reports the Daily Mail.
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