Q: Why is it so important to end the use of restraint and seclusion in schools?
A: Lots of reasons. First, many kids experience restraints and seclusions as traumatizing. Even kids who aren’t restrained and secluded themselves often feel traumatized by merely observing these practices. Second, restraints and seclusions are unnecessary and counterproductive. There are many classrooms — yes, even those in which students with severe behavioral challenges are placed — that do not use restraints and seclusions. And they’re safe classrooms. Third, restraints and seclusions are reactive, not proactive, and they solve no problems and teach no skills.
Q: Given the difficulties of many students and how extreme their behavior can be, it is hard to imagine eliminating the use of restraint and seclusion completely.
A: That may be because staff haven’t yet changed their lenses, haven’t yet begun using the Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP) to ensure that intervention is almost totally proactive, are still focused on modifying behavior instead of solving problems collaboratively, and are still placing expectations on students that they are unable to reliably meet. And perhaps because their schools haven’t yet begun utilizing the Stabilization Designation described in Section #3.
Q: Speaking of the Stabilization Designation…any more details on that?
A: Here’s the key point: if a student is medically or behaviorally unstable and/or if a student is unable to meet most expectations, then stabilization becomes the primary goal for that student. Stability is what promotes learning. Continuing to place expectations on students that they are unable to reliably meet simply makes no sense, causes challenging behavior, and fuels the use of restraint and seclusion. Many schools have found it productive to take on the responsibility of stabilizing their students, rather than relying on outside placements, either by creating a separate classroom for unstable students or by attaching a paraprofessional or classroom aide to students who are unstable. The components include (a) removing all academic and social expectations, for now; (b) establishing seamless communication with parents and other caregivers; (c) obtaining written consent for school personnel to communicate with prescribing physicians; and (d) ensuring that a child’s medication regimen is helping and being followed reliably.
Q: Is there research documenting the effectiveness of Collaborative & Proactive Solutions in reducing the use of restraint and seclusion?
A: Yes. You can find some of it on the Research page of the Lives in the Balance website. We’ll be posting the most current research from schools on this website ASAP.
Q: Where can I learn more about the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions model?
A: On the home website of Lives in the Balance.
Q: Where can I learn about workshops and trainings on Collaborative & Proactive Solutions?
A: Click here for lots of options.
Q: Where can I learn more about rates of and policies regarding restraint and seclusion in my state, and efforts to reduce their use?
A: In the Advocacy section of the Lives in the Balance website. You may also want to check out an organization called the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint.
Q: I want to do more. How do I get more involved in advocating against restraint and seclusion and in favor of interventions that are focused on solving problems rather than modifying behavior, being proactive, and collaborating with kids?
A: Sign up to become a Lives in the Balance Advocator.
Q: I have a question that isn’t answered here. How do I get it answered?
A: Feel free to submit questions on the Contact form on this website.
Q: I’d like to discuss training options.
A: Feel free to use the Contact form for that too.
Note: Thanks to Anoka-Hennepin (Minnesota) School District 11 for making available the film footage shown on this website. The filming took place at a presentation for all elementary school staff in March, 2020.