I just read this article from Propublica.org and am stunned:
The room where they locked up Heather Luke’s 10-year-old son had cinder block walls, a dim light and a fan in the ceiling that rattled so insistently her son would beg them to silence it. A thick metal door with locks—which they threw, clank-clank-clank—separated the autistic boy from the rest of the decrepit building in Chesapeake, Virginia, just south of Norfolk.
One day in March 2011, his mother said, Carson flew into a panic at the mere suggestion of being confined there after an outburst.Staff members held him down, then muscled him through the hallway and attempted to lock him in, yet again. But this time, the effort went awry. Staffers crushed Carson’s hand while trying to slam the door. A surgeon later needed to operate to close the bleeding half-moon a bolt had punched into his left palm. The wound was so deep it exposed bone.
Indeed, federal rules restrict the practice of physically restraining children or isolating them in rooms against their will in institutions that receive money from the federal government—including hospitals, nursing homes and psychiatric centers. But bizarrely, there are no such restrictions on public schools, and schools have taken great advantage of this:
The practices—which have included pinning uncooperative children facedown on the floor, locking them in dark closets and tying them up with straps, handcuffs, bungee cords or even duct tape—were used more than 267,000 times nationwide in the 2012 school year, a ProPublica analysis of new federal data shows.
Even worse is the fact that 3/4 of students restrained had physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities. It goes without saying that there is a near-consensus among experts that these kinds of disciplinary actions are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit to the child.
Some schools commit these heinous acts more often than others, with the degree of violence varying by state. A map accompanying the article gives detailed information about each state’s policies on restraints and seclusion.