School Is Not Supposed to Hurt: NDRN Report Update

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Federal minimum standards are needed so that school children are protected from abusive seclusion and restraint practices, regardless of where they live.

On February 2, 2010,The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released a follow-up to its January 2009 report School is not Supposed to Hurt. The report, a shocking investigation chronicling the abusive use of seclusion and restraint on schoolchildren and a lack of state and federal regulation is updated with progress made in 2009.

The NDRN update shows grassroots efforts are soaring and the federal government is beginning to take action, but states have been slow to combat abusive seclusion and restraint practices.

Yet, throughout the year, there continued to be numerous alarming cases of severe physical and emotional harm, and parents who had not come forward began to tell horror stories of harm to their own children in schools.

Curt Decker, Executive Director of NDRN, noted a phenomenal advocacy response to the initial report and throughout the year, but went on to say that “while there is a consensus that seclusion and restraint are not forms of treatment, children continue to be harmed because some states still have no laws or policies and school personnel lack necessary training.”

Only two states, Minnesota and Missouri, which had no existing state law last year, took legislative action. Many states still have no restrictions on seclusion and restraint in schools, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

NDRN Press Release at

Download the Report at

School is not Supposed to Hurt (January 2009)

  1. Are there abuses in the school systems? For sure. Do these need to be addressed and fixed? YES! However, let’s remember this, your child’s teacher is there to TEACH them, not to be kicked, punched, spit on, and have desks hurled at them. Sometimes restraint and seclusion are necessary to maintain safety for staff and students. Instead of just assigning blame to schools who have to implement these emergency strategies, let’s make sure parents are doing 100% of what they can at home to make sure aggressive behaviors at school are minimized.

  2. We need legislation to protect our children in Ohio. My son as well as some of my friend’s children were treated very cruelly by a teacher. Our kids need help and understanding, not abuse. We’re supposed to be able to trust our teachers. It is an outrage. Luckily we found a school locally that cares about our children. His new school teaches them while also respecting and caring about them.

  3. Good article and information. Abuse should never be tolerated.
    Children who have disabilities need encouragement, structure, acceptance and nurturing. Children need to feel capable the child need to see oneself as capable (“I can do it”), the child needs to feel that to count (“I can make a difference” and I have high value”), the child needs to have courage (“I can handle what comes”), and they need to feel connect (“I belong” and I am loved). When these needs are not met, the child adopts negative behavior patterns that give him a false sense of importance and superiority.

  4. Susan, If the school told you your son can walk with the class they should let him. It sounds like the school is failing your son & either does not have an IEP that is geared to his individual needs or are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. We used to pay for outside tutors until we discovered that the school can many times pay for outside tutors if they cannot provide what your son needs directly from the school staff. My son is dyslexic & the school did not have anyone who could teach him to read. The school did not provide FAPE & I found an outside tutor that my son went to for six years including ESY & the school paid for all of at at $60.00 per hour 5 days per week. MY son was a non reader at the start of 9th grade & just finished the program at 10th grade level.

  5. only graduate once, my 8th grader has epilepsy and inattentive adhd. two days befor graduation practice were told he cant walk. he has 7 fs. he also has an I.E.P which obviosly is not working. Its policy, but the math class is a repeat and the same teacher. If he goes to summer school. he will get his certificate. this is discrimination and appaling. if they couldnt help him for two semesters on a repeat course , summerschool wont help. we also have attained outside tutoring this last month. that seems to help. Would have done it sooner but , no job. why is my son not able to get a blank certificate and walk with the classmates. never been in trouble, has been involved in everything, just that his I.E.p has failed him. now with the emotional stress and upset, he is having more seizures and is depressed. Is this legal?

  6. My son is ADHD.He is on an IEP for his behavior. He is 9, on meds, in a public school in OH. I was trying to get the extra help (like learning how to recognize and to control his behavior ) because I was told they were trained and could help him. I was amazed to learn how they really treat these children. My son has been pushed down by the principal, grabbed black and blue, flipped out of a chair by 1 teacher because he ripped up a behavior report. She told him bad boys don’t deserve a chair. Now this is a behavior school, TRAINED STAFF for these kind of children. I have brought this to the attn. of the home school and we have had meetings and the behavior school denies this happened. The principal admitted to me he did it. They abuse the kids.

  7. My son has suffered his abuse at the hands of School Resource Officers. I am fighting, but they are a very protected group.

  8. My son’s experience is included in the report to Congress in May 08.

    The initial seclusion practices were subtle. He could not attend assemblies, school functions such as sporting events or dances.
    The public school began paying for a private placement because of their denial of a FAPE.

    We received a call tonight from a public school staff member inviting us to a formal dinner “tomorrow” to recognize high school students who rank in the top 10%. My son’s peers were given formal invitations weeks ago, allowing them to attend this important event. My son has a prior commitment that he can not get out of.

    There should be a law passed that allows ADA and IDEA to be enforced, removing a school district’s option to exclude a child from honors that he has earned.

  9. We would like to tell our daughters story of abuse at the hands of a Texas school. We believe it will help other disabled students and parents. This is truly a horror story which needs to be heard. We have full documentation to back the story. Can someone please advise how to get the story out ?

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