I work with kids and adults (up to 21) who the public schools cannot handle because of their level of violence or self-injurious behavior. I’m talking about a 6 year old who detached a retina in one eye through head banging, a boy who broke his own leg kicking through a wall, a 19 year old who knocked a teacher out, and another who threw a pair of scissors at someone’s head with enough force that they stuck into the wall. In other words, they are truly a danger to themselves or others.
We use quiet rooms. If a kid is at risk of hurt themselves in the quiet room (ex. choking themselves with something), we go in and hold them until they are no longer trying to hurt themselves or others. We are only allowed to hold a kid for 10 minutes and then we have to try to release them because of worries about nerve damage. If they are still unsafe, we have to try a new hold to decrease the likelihood of nerve damage. In training, we heard stories about accidents where kids were hurt because adults utilized restraints incorrectly. I’m scared to imagine the level of nerve damage these kids might endure. We have video cameras everywhere and we must document every instance of restraint, even if it is 5 seconds long.
Also, regardless of whether a kid is in the middle of banging their head against the wall, if they say they need to use the bathroom, we have to let them use the bathroom.
A co-worker used to work in a psychiatric hospital and they had similar rules about chemical and mechanical restraints.
There is no feasible reason to restrain someone for long lengths of time, ever! Many of my students have intellectual disabilities; that also is not a reason to restrain for long periods of time! Plus, they aren’t learning coping skills in restraint. It is our last resort when we can’t keep them safe any other way. If we just kept them in a locked closet all day, they’d never learn to deal with disappointment safely. We would never see progress. Kids are violent because they don’t know how to handle their emotions or get what they need in another way.
It is impossible these restraints were “legitimate”. In fact, we had one little boy who came to us after CPS found him in a similar condition (naked, chained to a bed in his own waste). The government oversees and approves our use of restraint, but his parents were put in jail despite claiming they had no other way to keep him safe. Restraint should never be used as punishment or as a way to make things easier on parents or staff. It is only allowed in acute crisis situations.
I’ve been following this case for days and it makes me sick. It makes me more ill to think people even entertain the idea that this treatment could be acceptable if the kids were disabled.
Edited to add: No one I work with (or have heard of) enjoys restraining. It is a risk for both us and the children we’re trying to help transition to a less restrictive environment. I’ve gone home and cried about my kids. I celebrate days where no one needs restraint to stop injuries. I’m disgusted that anyone would enjoy restraining another human being, especially their own children.