Letter: Stop use of seclusion in I.C. schools

The practice of seclusion and restraints isn’t a special education issue; it’s an education problem. If your child attends school in Iowa City, your child is being affected.

Witnessing a meltdown makes an impression. Being cleared from a classroom creates a memory. The act of restraint and seclusion can be violent. If your child has witnessed a peer being restrained, removed from class kicking and screaming, what has he/she learned?

Might makes right? The punishment fits the crime? Who controls my body? What are students learning about authority? Trust? Compassion? What conclusions are drawn about the child being restrained? About people who resemble that child? What do children start believing about themselves?

The emotional toll on teachers and staff must be incredible. This is heartbreaking.

Best practices cannot result in injuries or death. Current best practices for extreme behaviors are Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Multisensory De-escalation Rooms. When students work with these tools, they learn life-changing skills: self-awareness (how to tell when they are beginning to escalate), self-regulation (how to calm down on their own), and self-advocacy (how to share with others what they need).

Everyone needs these skills to be employable and live independently. Students will not learn these skills in seclusion, which the ICCSD refers to as “time out.”

Twenty-two states ban the use of seclusion/restraints or limit use to emergency situations where there is imminent threat of physical harm.

If you’d like Iowa City to join them, please contact the school board: board@iowacityschools.org

Nathalie Cruden

Iowa City

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