The press offices of the US House Committee on Education and Labor issued notices about pending hearings regarding seclusion and restraint procedures. As noted elsewhere, statements by advocacy organizations and news reports about instances of terrific abuses have made the use of seclusion and restraint at current issue in the US.
Advisory: House Education Committee to Examine Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools
WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, May 19, the House Committee on Education and Labor will hold a hearing to examine abusive and deadly uses of seclusion and restraint in U.S. schools. Seclusion and restraint are physical interventions used by teachers and other school staff to prevent students from hurting themselves or others.
WHAT: Full Committee Hearing on “Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools”
WHO: Witnesses TBA
WHEN: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
10:00 a.m. EDT
WHERE: House Education and Labor Committee Hearing Room, 2175 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Seclusion and restraint may be appropriately employed as a means of reducing responding (i.e., decreasing the frequency of behavior), but they very rarely are necessary. In addition to conducting FBAs, there are many means of decreasing responding that do not require physical seclusion or restraint (see, for example research on the procedures such as the “time-out ribbon” by Foxx and Shapiro). Unfortunately, people who do not employ behavior modification procedures in ways that are faithful to the research sometimes use seclusion or restraint, and they make such a hash of it that they hurt children. To borrow a phrase, school is not supposed to hurt.
People who hurt children, whether because they misuse procedures than can be used effectively or because they simply don’t know better, should receive immediate and sustained coaching in how to use effective and benign behavior modification methods. If they do not subsequently the employ those effective and benign procedures, they should find another place to work.
I hope one of the outcomes of these hearings is an emphasis on ensuring that the faculty and staff members in schools are required to learn how to iimplement effective behavior modification procedures. Given that there are millions of people involved in the educational endeavor, it is unlikely that mis-uses of behavioral procedures will ever be completely eliminated. However, educators could decrease the incidence of abusive instances by understanding and employing behavioral procedures appropriately.
See notes on Teach Effectively (15 Jan 2009), The Life that Chose Me (12 Mar 2009), EBD Blog (21 Apr 2009), and (surely) elsewhere on the Internet. It is likely that additional information will be posted at the House Committee’s Web site.