Having to restrain a student is a horrible, emotionally-exhausting, and often physically dangerous thing to have to do. We’ve all seen social media posts or heard news stories surrounding students being restrained and the consequences that have befallen staff and administration when it has been done improperly. Or even perceived to be done improperly. Unfortunately, I’ve been involved on a couple of occasions when the safety of the student and staff had been compromised. In the ensuing documentation of the incidents, I’ve reflected and wondered what I could do to avoid such situations. These 3 rules are a good reminder on when physically restraining a student should be used as a last resort.
The following three rules are taken verbatim from the Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document.
Physical restraint or seclusion should not be used except in situations where the child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others and other interventions are ineffective and should be discontinued as soon as imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others has dissipated.
In one situation a student was in a highly agitated, visibly upset, emotional state. He was walking around the building looking for a particular student to fight. In this instance he was restrained and then confined to a particular portion of the building. As soon as he calmed down we were able to bring him down to the office where we waited for his father.
Every instance in which restraint or seclusion is used should be carefully and continuously and visually monitored to ensure the appropriateness of its use and safety of the child, other children, teachers, and other personnel.
In the previous example I was the one visually monitoring the events as they happened. I was able to speak on the situation to the father and able to recount the events in the necessary and mandatory paperwork that followed. If you have video cameras in your building it is also a good idea to review these as well to make sure your recollection of events are not colored by your emotions. Mark the date and times that the incident occurred so if called upon to submit evidence you are able to locate the data quickly.
Document Document Document
Each incident involving the use of restraint or seclusion should be documented in writing and provide for the collection of specific data that would enable teachers, staff, and other personnel to understand and implement the preceding principles
Making sure an incident report is filled out by all witnesses. Not just the primary individuals involved is a great idea. In this way, if called upon, there is a well rounded and complete picture of the incident. In obtaining multiple points of view there is less opportunity for bias and that transparency is necessary to continue to have the necessary trust with that child’s parent.
Keeping your community safe is the primary goal of all principals. In rare instances restraining a child is necessary. Keeping these three common sense rules in mind, you or students and staff are in imminent danger, make sure you have a witness, and document the incident, will help keep you out of legal trouble.
What are ways that you’ve built a culture in your building where restraining a student hasn’t been necessary? For a complete list of other policies recommended by the Restraint and Seclusion:Resource Document click on any of the previous links.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......