UPDATE:

To read the latest about No Kids In Cuffs, please check out our latest blog post featuring the No Kids In Cuffs press release!

Overview

Should Governor Abbott sign No Kids in Cuffs, it will prohibit peace officers and school security personnel from using restraints, tasers, and chemical irritant sprays on students under the age of 10, unless there is a serious risk of harm or injury.

What do HB 459 and SB 133 do?

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

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

This session, we worked with both State Representative Lacey Hull and State Senator Royce West to introduce No Kids in Cuffs in both the Texas House and Texas Senate.

By restricting the use of restraint, Texas ensures that students are safe and supported in their classrooms.

Authors: Representative Lacey Hull (HB 459) and Senator Royce West (SB 133)

How will children in schools benefit from this bill?

Children ages ten and younger in Texas have been restrained for minor offenses such as causing a disturbance in class or even violating the 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.

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

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.

How will peace officers in schools benefit from this bill?

This legislation provides clearer guidance for school personnel in regard to when restraints can and cannot be restrained. Our conversations and work with law enforcement officers have highlighted one main theme: our officers do not  want to restrain children. Law enforcement guidance was used in the drafting of No Kids in Cuffs.

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 is 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.

Our Coalition

In The Media

The Dallas Morning News: Restraining students should be limited in Texas schools to prevent abuse, advocates urge:  Lawmakers want tighter rules on restraints that often impact students with disabilities more than peers.
San Antonio Express News: Use of child restraints in Texas schools prompts calls for reform. Parents appeared Monday at the Texas Capitol to share how their children have been harmed by being physically restrained at school.
Texas Public Radio: Advocates and state lawmakers call for an end harmful restraining of children.
Spectrum News 1: Bill addresses bipartisan concern over abuse in Texas public schools: House Bill 459, or the “No Kids in Cuffs” bill, would prohibit the physical restraint or use of chemical irritants on children 10 years or younger.
Focus News Daily: Sen. West, Rep. Hull File “No Kids in Cuffs” Legislation.
CBS News: I-Team: Handcuffed and restrained in hallways.

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 from 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 that 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.