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Do You Know a Child Who’s Been Forcibly Restrained at School?
Overview
by Heather Vogell and Amanda Zamora
ProPublica, Jun. 19, 2014, 5:00 am

Restraint techniques: A Minnesota Department of Education report documents common restraints, including these basket holds. See more examples in our story on forcible restraints in public schools. (Illustration by Alberto Cairo, Special to Propublica)

Over the last decade, mental health facilities in the United States have shifted away from physically restraining or isolating people to control or discipline them. But at public schools, where these tactics are considered legal under federal law, the practice is shockingly common: In the 2012 school year alone, public schools used restraints or so-called seclusion rooms — in which children are held against their will — at least 267,000 times, according to a ProPublica analysis of federal data.

These cases of forcible restraint included schoolchildren being pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied down with straps, handcuffs or even duct tape. Three quarters of the incidents involved students with physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities.

ProPublica is investigating this practice of forcible restraint in U.S. schools and is interested in hearing from parents, educators or others who know children who have been restrained or inappropriately disciplined in a school setting.

Read our story to learn more about how some educators are restraining schoolchildren and tell us what you know about this issue by completing the survey below. Your feedback will remain confidential, unless you permit us to share your information with other journalists.

(Journalists: Interested in reporting on this story? Sign up to be matched with families or sources in your state)

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More on This Investigation

Washington Legislature Moves to Limit Schools Pinning Down and Isolating Kids

It’s the latest in a national trend to reduce restraints of school kids.

New York City Lays Out Limits on Restraints And Suspensions

Amid recent calls for reform, New York City’s Department of Education is introducing new restrictions on suspending and restraining kids in city schools.

Connecticut Schools Pin Down and Restrain ‘Staggering’ Number of Kids

A new state report found one public school student was restrained more than 700 times in one year.

Virginia Passes Bill to Rein in Restraints of School Kids

Many schools in the state still have no policies or rules around pinning kids down.

Massachusetts Tightens Rules on Restraining, Secluding Students

Under new rules, Massachusetts schools will not be allowed to use certain techniques to restrain or isolate students as frequently and will have to report all restraints and injuries.