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.
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