ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel
Topic
Project
Do You Know a Child Who’s Been Forcibly Restrained at School?
Overview
by Heather Vogell and Amanda Zamora
ProPublica, Jun. 19, 2014, 4:00 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)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Projects You Can Help With

More on This Investigation

Federal Investigators Crack Down on Two Virginia Schools’ Use of Restraints

Investigators found that children were being regularly pinned down or isolated and that their education was suffering as a result.

Meet the Groups Fighting Against Limits on Restraining School Kids

Republicans say it is a matter of states' rights.

Transcript: Should Public Schools be Free to Pin Down Students?

Highlights from our live discussion on the widespread restraint and seclusion of U.S. schoolchildren

Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will

Carson Luke, a young boy with autism, shattered bones in his hand and foot after educators grabbed him and tried to shut him into a “scream room.” Kids across the country risked similar harm at least 267,000 times in just one school year.

Journalists: How to Report on Restraints in U.S. Schools

A ProPublica guide to reporting on restraint and seclusion in public schools — sign up to be matched with tips and sources in your state.