Restraint and seclusion is wrong approach by schools

In response to the Free Lance–Star’s April 10 editorial [“Some students need to be restrained”], I would respectfully like to offer a different perspective, one based on my 30 years of working with children with developmental disabilities.

Studies estimate that nearly 50 percent of U.S. children have experienced at least one potentially traumatic adverse childhood experience (ACE) and may act out in negative ways when placed in triggering situations. Adding fresh trauma on top of that, by physically restraining or isolating them, is not the answer.

Most importantly, though, restraints and seclusion simply do not work. Research shows that these outdated, coercive techniques actually cause, reinforce, and perpetuate aggression and violence.

At the moment, the Virginia Department of Education is evaluating its policy on restraint and seclusion. I am pleased that this assessment is underway because I know that there is an alternative to these coercive techniques—one that has been proven to be more effective and to keep everyone in the classroom—students and teachers—safe.

It relies on using a trauma informed approach, creating an environment of comfort vs. control, and using safe, physical alternatives to restraint.

Training teachers to recognize why a child is exhibiting a particular behavior and offering meaningful intervention is the only way to reduce the use of restraint.

As the Virginia Department of Education reflects on its policies, I hope it will consider providing educators with the proper tools to de-escalate conflicts and manage behavioral issues in a way that is more effective and safer for everyone involved.

Kim Sanders

President, Ukeru Systems


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