Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR with your tax-deductible year-end gift today!
The Exchange

A Look at Controversy Surrounding Use of Restraints in Schools

Flickr / Creative Commons

Physically restraining or secluding children at school is generally considered a last resort for educators, to keep the classroom safe. But recent reporting has revealed that these techniques are used more frequently than you might expect, and kids with disabilities are disproportionately affected. We dive into the discussion on when it is and isn’t appropriate to restrain kids in school.


  • Alan Pardy – executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators
  • Michael Skibbie – policy director for the Disabilities Rights Center of New Hampshire
  • Heather Vogell – reporter with ProPublica who has covered this topic extensively.

From ProPublica's series on restraints and seclusion:

The practices—which have included pinning uncooperative children facedown on the floor, locking them in dark closets and tying them up with straps, handcuffs, bungee cords or even duct tape—were used more than 267,000 times nationwide in the 2012 school year, a ProPublica analysis of new federal data shows. Three-quarters of the students restrained had physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities.

Related Content