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The Arc Responds to ABC News Report on Restraint and Seclusion

Washington, DC – After reviewing the ABC News piece on restraint and seclusion in America’s schools, The Arc issued the following statement.

“No child should ever be exposed to these kinds of harmful practices. Children with disabilities are especially at risk and these practices are used on them at disproportionate rates. The Arc applauds ABC News’ work to shed light on restraint and seclusion in America’s schools, and we hope it sparks action in Congress to pass legislation to put in place national standards that keep our classrooms safe and require all school personnel to receive training in effective positive behavioral interventions,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.


Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the National Disability Rights Network have documented that children are injured, traumatized and even killed as a result of restraint and seclusion in schools and that the use of these dangerous techniques is widespread. The Arc believes that the harm suffered by students through the use of dangerous restraint and seclusion practices in our nation’s schools is unacceptable. Numerous alternatives to restraint and seclusion exist, including positive behavioral interventions and supports and other methods for preventing and stopping problem behaviors.

In March of 2012, The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education released data from the 2009-10 school year that shows that tens of thousands of school-aged children were secluded or restrained. The Department’s data are from 72,000 schools that educate 85 percent of the nation’s students. It shows that 70 percent of students subjected to the techniques have disabilities. There are no current federal standards on the use of the techniques in schools.

The Arc supports the Keeping All Students Safe Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and U.S. Representative George Miller of California, to allow the use of physical restraint only when someone is in danger of being harmed, while ensuring that personnel receive proper training, that parents are aware of any restraint or seclusion used with their children and that the most dangerous types of restraint and seclusion are eliminated.