Palm Beach County School District – Use of Restraints Puts Children at Risk for Personal Injuries and Harm

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School children in Palm Beach County, Florida are being subjected to a risky form of prone restraint – a maneuver in which a child is held face down until he or she stops moving. This type of restraint is used mainly on special education students. For example, Joshua Foster, a 12-year-old boy with autism and cerebral palsy, was restrained by 5 men after he refused to attend art class. Five adult men pinned Joshua down, 2 men pinned his arms down, 2 men held down his legs, and another man had his knee in Joshua’s back.

Six states have banned this form of prone restraint. However, the maneuver remains in use in Florida. In fact, according to a Palm Beach County analysis, schools in the county used the maneuver on disabled students more than 1,500 times in 2007, mainly on elementary or pre-kindergarten schoolchildren. Art Johnson, Superintendent of Palm Beach County schools, stated that prone restraint is the safest position to bring someone to rest when that person is a danger to himself or others.

Although this type of restraint may bring someone to rest, it is incredibly risky. For example, this form of prone restraint has killed 6 adults in Florida’s mental health facilities. For children, injuries can occur in many ways: an adult may accidentally compress a child’s chest, cutting of his or her air supply, or improperly used pressure can bruise or break a bone. Also, students with asthma or other respiratory or cardiac conditions are at special risk of injury or death. Because the children are pinned face-down it is hard to see signs of distress. If you would like to read more o this topic please see Form of prone restraint may be too risky for Florida schoolchildren.