Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NJ: Restraints used by NJ educators to curb unruly behavior under scrutiny

Excerpt from

It's been called "the dirty little secret'' of special education.

New Jersey gives public and private schools a virtual free pass to forcibly restrain unruly children with disabilities.

School employees can use "bear hugs,'' "basket holds'' and "take downs'' … which sound more like wrestling moves than anything you'd expect to see in school … and keep children confined in "time-out'' rooms until they calm down.

Last year, congressional investigators uncovered hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and at least 20 deaths related to the use of restraints and seclusion in U.S. schools since 1990.

State law also allows school employees to use extreme measures to control severely autistic children who habitually injure themselves by banging their heads, biting their hands or other compulsive behaviors. The techniques include spraying water or noxious chemicals in kids' faces, snapping their wrists with rubber bands or putting hot sauce on their tongues, disability rights advocates say.

Educators and crisis-intervention experts say restraining holds and other forceful methods are sometimes necessary, as a last resort, to protect children and others from harm. Moreover, they reflect the serious behavior problems schools have to contend with today, especially in special education.

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