School Corporal Punishment: Many Parents Unaware Of Shackling, Handcuffing, And Isolation Of Kids

Public school corporal punishment goes way beyond spanking or paddling kids as a means of disciplinary action.

Constitutional attorney and Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead wrote an article in the Canada Free Press called, “Handcuffs, Leg Shackles, and Tasers: The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools.”

In the article, Whitehead reveals that an estimated 1,500 kids are tied up or locked down everyday by school officials in the U.S.

A minimum of 500 kids are locked inside a padded room, closet, or duffel bag as a form of solitary confinement. This is often carried out in public schools without the parents’ knowledge.

Whitehead goes on to say that it’s not unusual for kids who “act up” during class to be pinned down, locked in dark closets, or tied up. The corporal punishment tactics of restraining students is done with straps, bungee cords, or duct tape. Utilizing handcuffs, leg shackles, and tasers are other tools school staff may use to “restrain” or “immobilize” a child who’s throwing a tantrum or not following directions. They’re treated as though they’re a danger to themselves or others — which is rare, Whitehead says.

What’s the shocking part about this? The attorney says the corporal punishment tactics are “all legal.”

“Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers (a.k.a. police officers) in the nation’s public schools.”

Examples of this are laid out by Whitehead in the detailed article. A 4-year-old preschooler in Virginia was handcuffed, leg shackled, and taken to the sheriff’s office for throwing blocks and climbing on furniture. School officials claimed that the harsh devices were used to protect adults from injury.

“School safety agents” in New York tied a 5-year-old with ADHD to a chair because he threw a tantrum in class. Law enforcement said the velcro straps prevented the boy from biting one of the adults.

Some of Whitehead’s other examples have made headline news, such as the one in 2012, which involved a 6-year-old kindergartener in Georgia being handcuffed and taken to the police station for throwing a tantrum. According to CNN, the student was charged with simple battery of a schoolteacher and criminal damage to property.

Other instances of severe corporal punishment the author lists include a second-grader with ADHD being duct-taped to her chair for getting up to sharpen her pencil and Kentucky school officials forcing a 9-year-old into a duffel bag for “acting up” in class. An 11-year-old special needs child paid a high price for not going back inside after recess. He was driven home by police because he allegedly was “out of control” by “passively” resisting their attempts to control him.

“Unfortunately, these are far from isolated incidents,” Whitehead writes.

The lawyer cites an investigative report by Heather Vogell of ProPublica. The problem of severe corporal punishment is “plaguing” schools “across the nation” and is occurring in “every school district in America.”

Statistics show that in 2012 there were 267,000 attempts by school officials to restrain or lock up kids. There’s reason to believe even more cases of this exist, especially in children with autism or those experiencing emotional and behavioral issues, Vogell reported. These kids are either too young, distressed, or have limited abilities in communicating to their parents what goes on at school.

With some special needs students, a “time out” is warranted in a compassionate way. This report is stressing the unapproved secluded settings dubbed “scream rooms,” which are “unmonitored,” locked rooms. Some are padded and only 4-feet-by-4-feet in size.

Psychiatrist Keith Ablow is a psychiatric contributor to the Fox News Channel. He says “scream rooms” have no place in the public school system.

“Scream rooms are nothing but solitary confinement, and by extension, that makes every school that uses them a prison. They turn principals into wardens and make every student an inmate.”

Kids are being traumatized with heavy handed tactics, research in the report indicates. Schools are being compared to prisons that house hardened criminals. Depression, anxiety, nightmares, and mistrust of adults often ensues for affected children. As the article by Whitehead further states, the numerous cases have proven that handcuffing, shackling, and tying up kids aren’t working and “should never be used for punishment or discipline.”

“‘Fear for one’s safety’ has become such a hackneyed and threadbare excuse for behavior that is inexcusable. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that explanation covers a multitude of sins, whether it’s poorly trained police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, or school officials who are ill-equipped to deal with children who act like children, meaning they don’t always listen, they sometimes throw tantrums, and they have a hard time sitting still.”

Whitehead adds that a “growing number” of schools are implementing a policy of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). It rewards positive behavior and has shown to work with students before they enter third grade, avoiding early intervention.

More changes are needed, but it would entail “taking on the teachers’ unions, the school unions, the educators’ associations, and the police unions, not to mention the politicians dependent on their votes and all of the corporations that profit mightily from an industrial school complex,” according to Whitehead.

It has to start locally and go up from there, Whitehead writes. It’s about parents standing up for what they demand from their children’s schools when it comes to corporal punishment or other measures of severe punishment. It’s also about police being cut out of student discipline and parents being notified of their child’s behavior before further action is taken with punishment.

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