Seclusion & Restraint
in Michigan Schools
Don't Michigan teachers need emergency seclusion and restraint to keep our students safe?
No. They don't. In fact, using seclusion and restraint actually makes all students and teachers less safe. Here's why.
Don't educators need seclusion and restraint to...
Stop a Student from Running Into the Road?
No. The holding of a pupil for a brief time in order to prevent an impulsive behavior that threatens the pupil's immediate safety, such as running in front of a car, is not considered emergency restraint.
Stop a Physical Assault?
No. Restraint does not include the necessary actions taken to stop a physical assault.
Calm a Student Down?
No. Giving a student time to voluntarily sit alone in a room, where they are able leave, is not considered emergency seclusion. If it is not voluntary and they can't leave, it won't be calming to the student.
Take a Weapon?
No. Restraint does not include the necessary actions taken to take a weapon from a pupil.
Keep Themselves Safe?
No. Getting close to a student whose nervous system is in fight state and whose body is fighting for it's life is not safe. Educators are more likely to get hurt trying to seclude or restrain a student. Training reduces, but does not eliminate, risk.
Break Up a Fight?
No. Restraint does not include necessary actions taken to break up a fight.
Hold a Distressed Student?
No. Emergency restraint does not include the brief holding of a pupil in order to calm or comfort.
Prevent Destruction of Property?
No. In fact, it is unlawful for educators to seclude or restrain students to prevent the destruction of property.
Protect a Self-Injurious or Suicidal Student
No. Emergency seclusion is not permitted for the confinement of pupils who are severely self-injurious or suicidal.
Teachers do not need to use emergency seclusion or restraint to stop a physical assault, take a weapon, break up a fight, stop a student from running into the road, calm a student down, or protect a self-injurious or suicidal student, so what do they need it for?
Seclusion and restraint cannot legally be used as a form of discipline or punishment, to get students to do work, to keep a student from distracting others, to stop the destruction of property.
When students are really struggling, stress behavior can occur and it can look like hitting, kicking, spitting, or throwing things. These actions do not pose imminent risk of severe bodily harm and therefore do not justify the use of emergency seclusion and restraint. In this case, other students should be removed from the space, an adult who has a positive relationship with that student can co-regulate use de-escalation techniques for as long as it takes for the student to become regulated. The very first time an adult uses seclusion or restraint, they lose their ability to help that child co-regulate.
Students who are acting aggressively don't need consequences, they need help!
This is a system-wide problem. Many educators are lead to believe that using behaviorist approaches is the best way to teach a student who is "not listening" or not meeting behavior expectations. The language that is being used is that the student has a "choice" and that they are making poor "choices." Many educators are offering motivation of rewards and consequences in an attempt to help a student "make better choices," when in fact, the student is doing the best they can with the resources they have in the current moment. They don't "make a good choice" because they are dysregulated, their nervous system is in a state of fight or flight, they lack the social or emotional skills to handle the situation, their needs are not being met, they are hypervigilant because of trauma and don't feel safe, or they are operating with an undiagnosed and untreated disability. Students who are acting aggressively don't need consequences, they need help! They need to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe with a trusted adult with whom they have a secure relationship. This can never happen with an adult who has secluded or restrained them. Seclusion and restraint are traumatizing for students and for adults. Using seclusion, restraint, and similar strategies causes more aggressive behaviors and makes schools more dangerous for students and staff. It needs to end. There are better ways!