The following is a press release regarding The Cost of Waiting, a new TASH report on restraint and seclusion. View the report by clicking the link below. You may also download this press release to share with your networks. We encourage you to post a link to your Facebook and Twitter pages.
Report highlights the real consequences of inaction on federal legislation to protect children from abuse in schools
WASHINGTON (May 24, 2012) – TASH, a nonprofit advocate for inclusion and human rights for persons with significant disabilities, has released The Cost of Waiting, a report exposing the implications of inaction on federal legislation to protect children from abuse in schools.
Through an analysis of news stories collected over the past year, The Cost of Waiting chronicles the vulnerability of children across the nation to restraint, seclusion and other dangerous aversive procedures. With each passing day, children in U.S. schools continue to be at risk of procedures that provide no therapeutic value and have shown to produce emotional trauma, physical injury and even death. Such practices, which are not evidence-based, include forcibly strapping a child to a chair, locking them in a closet or pinning them face down on the ground, among other practices.
As the second edition of The Cost of Waiting, this report comes two years since the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to restrict restraint and seclusion practices in schools. Such legislation never reached the Senate floor, and subsequent attempts have yet to yield protections in the form of federal law. TASH, along with parents and numerous advocacy groups for children with disabilities, has petitioned for legislation to create positive and safe learning environments for all students.
“At this moment, there are thousands of children at risk of being needlessly traumatized, injured or killed by these practices,” said Barb Trader, executive director of TASH. “There are real consequences if we don’t act now, and the best solution on the table is federal legislation that says ‘no’ to abusing children in schools.”
Restraint is characterized by exposing the student to physical, mechanical or chemical restraints to immobilize them. These procedures include forcing a child to the floor, the use of tape, cuffs or other devices and the application of medicine that dulls a child’s ability to move or think. Seclusion is forced isolation in a room or space. Without legal safeguards, these procedures are often carried out by untrained or undertrained personnel, placing students at higher risk of serious injury or death.
In 2009, the Government Accountability Office conducted a national review of restraint and seclusion policies. It found no federal laws specifically regulate the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, and state laws vary widely, if they exist at all. Some states have attempted to address this issue, either through guidelines, which lack enforceability, or regulations, which lack permanence. Although others have passed laws, the approach can vary state-to-state, as well as in each state’s capacity to adequately address the issue. In other states, little, if anything, has been done. Given this patchwork of state laws, as well as their shortcomings, TASH and other advocates for children’s rights remain adamant that federal law is a necessity to ensure all students can learn in a positive and safe environment.
TASH and other advocates, including the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion – a TASH-led coalition of disability organizations – will continue to urge Congress to protect all students in U.S. schools. View and download a copy of The Cost of Waiting and find more information on this issue at www.tash.org.