Ending childhood restraint benefiting our students and law enforcement

No Kids in Cuffs - Federal

While our original legislation tackled the issue of child restraint in Texas, inappropriate restraint is a nationwide issue. Some states have policies to limit the use of restraints, while others do not. There is still no comprehensive federal policy regarding the use of restraint in schools. 

During the 2017-2018 school year, over 70,000 students were restrained throughout the country. In the same year, students with disabilities made up only 13% of the entire student population but constituted 80% of all restraint cases.

The disproportionality that is present in the treatment of students with disabilities highlights a disturbing trend. 

Hispanic students are 45% more likely to experience restraints

Black students are 200% more likely to experience restraints

In order to bring awareness to the issue of restraints and their effects on children, educators, and law enforcement, we have partnered with Representative Sylvia Garcia to introduce the No Kids in Cuffs Resolution.

What does the resolution do?

The resolution states the number of children that have been restrained in the most recent school year and highlights the negative effects restraints can have on children, educators, and officers.

This sets the stage to create clear policy benefitting interventional outcomes for both our educators and peace officers.

How will children in schools benefit from this bill?

Children who are restrained suffer both short-term and long-term effects. In the immediate aftermath, they may experience PTSD-like symptoms and have trouble sleeping. In the long-term, these children may experience issues with academic success and social and emotional development.

What we know is this: trauma harms development. This resolution acknowledges this harm and takes the step- as a country- to work towards a solution.

How will officers in schools benefit from this bill?

The resolution recognizes the effect that actors and witnesses to the restraint may experience.

Research highlights that when a person, in this case, an officer or an educator, witnesses a child undergoing trauma, they may develop vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma manifests in PTSD symptoms, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, etc.

Put simply, limiting traumatic interactions between peace officers and children is just as beneficial to peace officers as it is to children.

Looking Forward and Working Together

For over a decade, restraint legislation has been repeatedly introduced in both the House and the Senate yet has seen no progress. This lack of progress is partially due to a lack of clarity. In order to remedy this, we are working towards a resolution that recommits and clarifies the intention of restraint legislation. 

In order to advance our legislation and ensure bipartisanship from the very beginning, we have congregated a coalition made up of national and state actors from across the country. Our coalition brings together activists, advocates, and experts in the fields of disability rights, education, juvenile justice, and criminal justice. 

We believe that by focusing specifically on restraints and through a heavy emphasis on bipartisanship, we can ensure that legislation passes and that students, educators, and officers are safe in our schools.

Questions?

If you are a policymaker or organization interested in establishing this policy in your state, please contact us at policy@minaretfoundation.com.

Frequent Questions

What are restraints? What is considered restraining a child?

There are three forms of restraints used in school settings: physical, chemical, and mechanical.

Physical restraints restrict a person’s ability to move their arms, legs, neck, or torso freely by holding a part of their body.

Mechanical restraints restrict movement through a device, such as zip-ties or handcuffs.

Chemical restraints restrict movement through some form of a medicinal sedative or agent such as pepper spray. 

How will students in schools benefit from this bill?

This legislation will protect students from unneeded physical harm and emotional effects. Restraining children for nonviolent offenses negatively impacts their academic and emotional development.

Children that have been restrained often have trouble sleeping and as a result, they cannot focus in class and will be prone to causing further disruptions. 

How will police officers in schools benefit from this bill?

It relieves them from the undue responsibility of deciding when it is appropriate to use restraints or chemical irritants on disruptive students.

Officers who witness a child undergoing trauma are at risk of developing vicarious trauma, which manifests in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms including anxiety and depression.

Limiting traumatic experiences between peace officers and children is just as beneficial to police officers as it is to children.

How might NKIC impact educators? How do educators benefit from this?

Educators are not resistant to the effects of restraints in academic settings; rather, it affects their mental health and whether they continue teaching. “I would lock myself in the bathroom at work and cry, and I know that I wasn’t the only one,” says D, who spent a year working as a teaching assistant at a school for students with autism.

The prevalence of occupational support, burnout, and vicarious trauma among teachers is significantly higher in institutions where the school administration failed to implement trauma-informed care than in schools where trauma-informed care is used for students with behavioral challenges.

Studies show that restraints trigger sleep and learning difficulties in children, so NKIC will improve student performance and behavior in the classroom. 

Does this bill apply to students that demonstrate violent actions?

No, it only applies to students whose actions are non-violent. Possession of a weapon or a serious threat endangering the safety of those in the classroom would be considered violent actions and this policy would not be applied in those instances.

What non-violent actions would warrant this policy?

Non-violent actions include emotional outbursts that disrupt the class. Non-violent violations of school policy, such as dress code, would also forbid child restraint. 

What is the process of restraint at this time?

There is not a uniform process of restraint at this time. Not all school districts have policies underlining that restraints cannot be used in nonviolent situations. 

Why are children currently being restrained?

Children are being restrained for varying levels of offenses. They are being restrained for throwing tantrums, damaging school property, or otherwise disrupting class.

Children should never be restrained in these circumstances, only in instances where the lives of their fellow students or teachers are threatened. 

Don’t some children have to be restrained in order to prevent themselves from harming themselves or others?

Children would need to be restrained if there is a serious risk that they would physically harm themselves or others. This policy does not apply to children that threaten to harm themselves or others, it only applies to children that are restrained from committing nonviolent actions.

What about older students who may pose a threat to law enforcement or educators?

This policy only applies to elementary-age students who are 10 years and younger. Students older than this are not included in the policy. 

How will NKIC impact law enforcement/SRO operations?

Law enforcement and SRO, when called to address a disruptive student, will not be allowed to restrain the student if they are 10 or younger unless they pose a credible danger to the safety of their peers or themselves. 

Will NKIC improve or lessen school safety?

No Kids in Cuffs will improve school safety through the process of peaceful de-escalation of situations that do not require children to be restrained in the first place. This includes offenses such as being loud and disruptive during class or violating the school dress code. 

How many American school districts have shown a desire to reduce law enforcement/SRO restraint intervention in the last half-decade?

Several states are mandating a specialized curriculum that all school-based law enforcement must take. Although research on the impact of de-escalation training for police is still needed, some researchers have recommended training for law enforcement to use verbal and other techniques to defuse situations.

In Texas, a 2019 law requires school-based law enforcement to complete 16 hours of additional training that includes child development, positive behavioral interventions, conflict resolution techniques, de-escalation techniques, and techniques for limiting the use of force, including the use of physical, mechanical, and chemical restraints.

How will NKIC impact private schools? Homeschooling?

No Kids in Cuffs does not apply to private schools and homeschooling. It is only applicable to public and charter schools. 

Questions?

Are you a policymaker, member of the media, or a prospective partner? Please feel free to give us a call, send us an email, or fill out our form.

Thank you for stopping by!

Phone: (281) 401-9229
Email: policy@minaretfoundation.com