Why Restraint Prevention is the Priority

Barb Trader, TASH ED, was a featured speaker at the Crisis Prevention Institute’s (CPI) launch of their North America Restraint Reduction Network. Barb serves a dual role with TASH and as the Convener of APRAIS, the Alliance for the Prevention of Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion which TASH launched in 2004. She focused her remarks on three important principles – restraint and seclusion are dangerous practices, physically and emotionally; they can have long-term negative impact on children after just one incident; and, students, teachers and schools are safer when the emphasis is improving school culture as a means of prevention. She also cited recent research, which shows that most children restrained are under 10 years old, and that aggressive behavior of the student is RARE – and the most likely cause for staff to restrain or seclude students is for lack of compliance. In other words, the most vulnerable children are being subjected to dangerous practices for reasons that are not justifiable.

The response of school personnel to the behavior of students entrusted to them throughout the school day is critically important to healthy student development. Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions and Trauma-Informed Practices are complimentary practices that support students to succeed in a school environment. School personnel must be prepared and supported to adopt these practices and to support students to learn in a supportive, caring environment. Conversely, restraint and seclusion are deeply traumatizing experiences for children subjected, school personnel who use them, and students who witness their use. Research shows that even one incident of trauma experienced in childhood can have a devastating impact on a child’s neurological development, ability to trust, and healthy development. A child’s experience of trauma is often not known or recognized. Adults in contact with children must develop trauma-informed practices to ensure that child survivors of trauma are not re-traumatized by adult behaviors or environmental factors, and are supported to feel safe and heal.

CPI, a company which trains school personnel to create safer environments, launched the North America Restraint Reduction Network this summer at their CPI Instructor Training Institute in New Orleans on July 21, in part a response to the alarming rates of restraint and seclusion use in public schools.