What can we do to address the emotional and traumatic impact of restraint or isolation?

An incident of physical restraint or isolation can be an emotional and traumatic experience for all involved. 

Students may need extra support as they recover from the incident.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) wrote to school districts to provide guidance on how the use of restraint and seclusion may result in discrimination against students with disabilities in violation of Federal laws that prohibit disability discrimination, including Section 504. OCR explained that restraint or seclusion can have a traumatic impact on a student, and if the school does not address the impact of the trauma, it can get in the way of the student’s access to education. You can find the letter and guidance from OCR online at: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201612-504-restraint-seclusion-ps.pdf    

Some things to watch for after there has been an incident of restraint or isolation:

  • Is your child having new struggles with academics or behavior?
  • Is your child reluctant to go, or refusing to go to school?
  • Is your child having a hard time concentrating or paying attention in class?
  • Is your child trying to avoid other students or adults at school?

If you see signs of trauma in your child, or if your child shares that they are afraid to be at school, or to interact with certain adults at school, ask for a meeting with the school. 

Consider asking that a school social worker, school counselor, school psychologist or other person familiar with trauma participate in the meeting and work with you to develop a plan to help your child.