Stop Using Forcible Restraint and Isolation Rooms as Punishment for Schoolchildren

physical restraint

Target: United States Representative John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Goal: Pass legislation limiting the use of forced restraint and physical isolation against students to emergency situations

The right of schools to forcibly restrain and isolate students in their care is more important than human rights, according to some congressional Republicans. Together with school district lobbyists, a group of conservative lawmakers is working to prevent any federal limit on these practices beyond clear emergencies.

Pinning children down, or forcing them to remain in rooms against their will, should never be an option unless there is immediate risk of harm to the teacher or students. Notifying a child’s parents after restraint or seclusion is used, too, is only common sense. United States Representative George Miller is trying to pass legislation to limit the use of restraint in schools, without much success. “We’ve had young people die in restraint and seclusion,” he said in an interview with ProPublica. “I don’t know how much more serious it has to get.”

A spokesperson for the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Representative John Kline, explained his opposition any such limits in a statement to ABC News. “Chairman Kline believes state officials and school leaders are best equipped to determine appropriate policies that should be in place to protect students and to hold those who violate those policies accountable.” When some states still lack any rules governing restraint and seclusion, leaving regulation up to individual states will not do enough to keep kids safe.

Many states have failed to regulate these cruel and unusual forms of discipline, allowing human rights violations against children to continue. Children with disabilities are frequently the targets of these inhumane practices. Urge Representative Kline to support common sense legislation to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools to true emergencies.


Dear Representative Kline,

While the U.S. government has urged creation of policies to limit the use of forcible restraint and physical isolation against students, schools are under no obligation to do so. Perhaps, then, it is not surprising to see that so few states currently have any such rules in place. It is this lack of consistent local concern for student safety that makes federal intervention necessary.

Lobbying groups claim that injuries to staff and students will increase if restrictions are put in place, but Montgomery County, Virginia has seen no such problems arise despite eliminating restraint and seclusion more than twenty years ago.

You have consistently sided with school district lobbyists in rejecting any federal restriction on the use of restraint and isolation to cases where a child or teacher is at immediate risk of harm. I urge you to abandon your irrational objections. Support legislation that limits the use of these controversial and sometimes deadly practices, and which requires that schools notify parents whenever they are used as a last resort.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Alberto Cairo via ProPublica

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