Ending childhood restraint benefiting our students and law enforcement

No Kids in Cuffs - Texas

This bill prohibits the restraint and use of chemical irritant sprays on students, 10 and under, by peace officers and school security personnel, unless they pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or others.

What does HB 459 and SB 133 do?

HB 459 and SB 133 amend Section 37.0021 of the current Education Code in Texas.

The bill states that a peace officer or school security personnel performing related duties on school property or at a school-sponsored or school-related activity may not restrain a student 10 years of age or younger unless the student poses a serious risk of harm to themselves or others.

Prior to this, there was no clear policy authorizing when personnel can use restraints or chemical irritant sprays. This lack of clarity led to several unfortunate circumstances in elementary schools.

To view the bills directly on the Capitol website, visit the following: HB 459 / SB 133

How will children in schools benefit from this bill?

Children ages 10 and younger in Texas have been restrained for minor offenses such as causing a disturbance in class, or even violating dress-code.

During the 2018-2019 school year, in Texas, there were nearly 45,000 incidents in which students were restrained. Students with disabilities experience 91% of all reported restraints though they make up just under 10% of all students. These statistics illustrate that restraint is too often resorted to for children exhibiting non-violent behavior in the classroom.

Ultimately, this legislation will help keep children safe by protecting them from physical and emotional trauma in the classroom and preventing them from being criminalized early in life.

Julian Ford, a clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice in Connecticut asserted that restraints may trigger problems in sleep, learning, relationships, and trust. Years will pass before a child may recover.

How will peace officers in schools benefit from this bill?

This legislation relieves personnel from the undue responsibility of deciding when it is appropriate to use restraints or chemical irritant sprays for disruptive children.

Furthermore, research highlights that when a person, in this case an officer, 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 to children.

Policy Cost

The State of Texas found closing this public policy loophole did not have a fiscal note.

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.

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

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

3: 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 peace officers as it is to children.

Does the policy have an implementation cost?

There is not a cost associated with this policy. The Texas Legislature has looked at the bill and determined that there is no fiscal cost.

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. 

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.

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. 

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