How can I support my school district’s effort to reduce or eliminate the need for restraint and isolation?

With a committed effort, some schools and other institutions have substantially reduced their use of restraint and isolation, with benefits for both students and staff. For example, institutions that have reduced their use of restraint and isolation also saw reductions in staff injuries.

Successful efforts to reduce the need for restraint and isolation require the collaboration and commitment of many people. Take a look at these Six Core Strategies for Reducing Seclusion and Restraint Use from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, and consider how you might be able contribute to an effort in your area:

  1. Leadership toward Organizational Change, to set the vision and expectation that restraint and isolation use will be reduced;
  2. Use of Data to Inform Practice;
  3. Workforce Development, to develop best practices including trauma-informed care;
  4. Use of Restraint and Seclusion Prevention Tools, including individualized assessments and interventions;
  5. Full Inclusion of Families and Advocates, with notice and involvement in review of policies; and
  6. Debriefing, including a thorough analysis of every restraint and isolation event.

You can read more about these strategies at

The use of restraint and isolation carries risks to students and staff. It takes away valuable instructional time, undermines the trust between students and teachers that is so critical to support learning, and can lead to trauma, physical injury and even death. Given the risks associated with restraint and isolation, and the shared desire to have school be a safe place for everyone, it makes sense for schools and families to work together to reduce the need for these extreme measures whenever possible.