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N.H. Child Advocate Launches Review Into Use of Restraint and Seclusion

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Office of the Child Advocate is launching a review into how restraint and seclusion are being used on children in behavioral health settings.

The review will look at both private residential treatment facilities and the state-run Sununu Youth Services Center.

Child Advocate Moira O'Neill says right now the patterns of how restraint and seclusion are used in New Hampshire are poorly understood.

The only statewide data available is an aggregate number that shows the total incidents of restraint and seclusion across all facilities. Since 2014, there have been more than 20,000 incidents of restraint and seclusion across all residential facilities.

“But we don't know what that means,” said O’Neill. “Was it many children? Was it one particular staff? Was it children in a particular type of treatment that may or not be effective?”

O'Neill said the answers to those questions could reveal ways to improve care for children and to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion which add to a child's trauma.

“When children are restrained or secluded, that is an indicator of not just the quality of their treatment," said O'Neill, "but also whether or not they're getting the treatment they need.”

O'Neill hopes to release a report with their findings by the end of October.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.
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