Minnesota should delay ban on prone restraints

  • Article by: Star Tribune Editorial
  • Updated: May 7, 2013 - 8:17 PM

It’s a challenge to strike the right balance. When a special-needs student is threatening or behaving violently, how can school staff best protect the safety of that child, other kids and adults?

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FLmomMay. 7, 13 7:51 PM

I don't understand why school staff and legislatures think that it is acceptable practice to prone restrain children with disabilities. What you are doing to these children is so wrong and only making their behaviors worse. Don't you understand that many of these children cannot talk or express their feelings and the only way they can get your attention is by behaviors? You should be helping them not hurting them. I can't believe how intelligent people can be so cold to children with disabilities. Most of these kids are small and are not a threat to anyone. The barbaric practice of restraint and seclusion used on children with disabilities needs to stop. If you knew what you were doing you would not be using restraint and seclusion because this is a barbaric treatment from the past that does nothing but harm children physically and mentally.

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mustang07May. 7, 13 8:42 PM

Very difficult situation. There is no correct answer. This is a vexing problem that has stymied societies, lawyers, sociologists, politicians, ethicists, and now educators from time immortal: what do we do with those people who do not behave in a manner that we expect people to behave in our society? On one hand, students with disabilities who become enraged are a danger to themselves, other students, and school staff. Without question, the prone restraint is the single most efficient and effective tool to prevent injuries. From a utilitarian or retribution view, this punishment is good. On the other hand, any type of restraint or punishment does not alter behavior and may even injure the student. The student's brains are, by no fault of their own, wired incorrectly. Therefore, punishments that would deter a normal person's brain do not affect a disabled person's brain. A believer in deterrence or rehabilitation view, punishment is completely inappropriate. There is not a single right answer and the cost-balancing analysis is a very difficult dance.

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owatonnabillMay. 7, 13 8:45 PM

"The barbaric practice of restraint and seclusion used on children with disabilities needs to stop. If you knew what you were doing you would not be using restraint and seclusion because this is a barbaric treatment from the past that does nothing but harm children physically and mentally." ............... People seem to think that restraint and seclusion are punishments. They're not. They're techniques that are used as a last resort so that the person being restrained does not injure him/herself or others and there's nothing "barbaric" in that. Much of the behavior that results in restraint is self-injurious behavior where the person attempts to hurt themselves. Owatonnabill case-managed a young woman who over time was able to literally claw out her own eyes. An other case was a young man who so injured his hands by striking his head that he nearly needed his hand amputated. A young girl had the interesting habit of stuffing things like razor blades and needles in her mouth (or, when she couldn't get those, most anything sharp or jagged would do). It is pretty hard to get a razor blade out of a kid's mouth without using restraint. Nobody likes doing restraints. But the problem with this and so many other feelgood articles put forth by the Strib is that they give only part of the story. Restraints prevent damage. Hopefully a well-designed behavior program then helps to extinguish the problem behaviors over time. But step one is always to minimize damage and often the only way to do that is to restrain.

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mandansmomMay. 7, 13 9:30 PM

"it is equally troubling to read about the injuries sustained by staff members who have been punched, kicked and bitten by disabled students."

Agreed. There are methods than can de-escalate such situations and nobody has to get hurt. The solution lies in training school personnel, AND in providing alternative environments for volatile children. We have a docile child who was placed with out-of-control kids and the harm done to him and his future is immense.A school is not a safe place, in his eyes. It's time to admit that children have different needs and "mainstreaming" doesn't benefit any of them.

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mandansmomMay. 7, 13 9:35 PM

owatonnabill, I hear you. Once upon a time in my career, we had to pull all of a child's teeth to prevent him from chewing off the rest of his fingers. Children who are so self injurious as to require restraint do not belong in schools! They belong in mental/behavioral health programs. Lacking those, we've delegated responsibility to schools, and then we wonder why school children are not up to par. Seem's really crazy to me.

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FLmomMay. 7, 13 9:38 PM

Restraint and seclusion are not used as a last resort! What kind of school are you talking about where these behaviors happen? (Owatonnabill case-managed a young woman who over time was able to literally claw out her own eyes. An other case was a young man who so injured his hands by striking his head that he nearly needed his hand amputated. A young girl had the interesting habit of stuffing things like razor blades and needles in her mouth (or, when she couldn't get those, most anything sharp or jagged would do). It is pretty hard to get a razor blade out of a kid's mouth without using restraint)

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goferfanzMay. 7, 13 9:46 PM

Where is zero tolerance when it's needed? If you are going to mainstream students, then treat all of them equally. Violence against staff should end any student's career. It is truly bizarre we sit and debate how to handle repeatedly violent "students." The answer is clear = goodbye. "Special needs" shouldnt be equated with "any and all violence allowed."

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furguson11May. 7, 1311:52 PM

Even cops have stopped using prone restraint. To many deaths from people who stopped breathing.

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whatzitMay. 8, 1312:09 AM

and yet again people who have no clue no experience and no risk tell others how to do a tough job, Bravo

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jgmanciniMay. 8, 1310:23 AM

"But the problem with this and so many other feelgood articles put forth by the Strib is that they give only part of the story."-----I appreciate most of owatonnabill's post, and thank him for the valuable insights. But if he thinks this is a "feelgood" story, I'd hate to see what he finds to be grim and depressing.

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