2009 Reports released on Seclusions and Restraints
May 2009 – GAO Report: Seclusions and Restraints: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers
What GAO Found
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) found no federal laws restricting the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools and widely divergent laws at the state level. Although GAO could not determine whether allegations were widespread, GAO did find hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death related to the use of these methods on school children during the past two decades. Examples of these cases include a 7 year old purportedly dying after being held face down for hours by school staff, 5 year olds allegedly being tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape by their teacher and suffering broken arms and bloody noses, and a 13 year old reportedly hanging himself in a seclusion room after prolonged confinement. Although GAO continues to receive new allegations from parents and advocacy groups, GAO could not find a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects information on the use of these methods or the extent of their alleged abuse.
April 2009 – Out of Darkness…Into the Light: Report Released on Seclusion and Restraint of Wisconsin Children
The report exposes the tragedy of secluding and restraining Wisconsin children in schools and treatment settings throughout the state. It describes the ways in which Wisconsin children have been both emotionally and physically injured by such practices, including one child who died in restraints. It further describes actions taken by many other states to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint of children, and calls for legislative and administrative agency action to protect Wisconsin children from these dangerous practices.
This report of their study on restraint and seclusion of school children, many with disabilities, chronicles a number of instances where children were injured or even killed by these techniques. (January 2009)