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Outlaw child abuse in schools
George Miller and Cathy McMorris Rodgers,
Special to CNN
Reps. Miller and McMorris Rodgers say kids sometimes restrained abusively in schoolsNo federal laws prevent this, they say, and it happens disproportionately to special ed kidsThey say students, teachers, classmates are all harmed by abuse, with lasting effectsMiller, McMorris Rodgers: New law would train teachers, limit restraint, provide oversight
U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-California, is the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and the chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, is a member of the House Education andLabor Committee and vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.
-- All Cedric wanted was lunch.A 14-year old student in a special education classroom in Texas, Cedric was living with a foster family because of a history of neglect,including malnutrition. But on this day in 2002, his teacher tried to punish him by withholding food, despite the abuse he had suffered as ayoung child.Cedric's teacher delayed his lunch for hours to discipline him for refusing to do his work. When he wouldn't comply, his teacher put him ina face down restraint and sat on him in front of his classmates. Cedric said repeatedly that he could not breathe. He died minutes later onthe classroom floor.Cedric's tragic story isn't an isolated case in America's schools today.According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, over the last 20 years there have been hundreds of allegations of schoolpersonnel using restraint and seclusion in abusive ways on children. It's happening disproportionately to students with disabilities, often atthe hands of untrained staff. Many of these students bear haunting physical and emotional scars. And in a number of cases, studentshave died.It's difficult to believe, but there are no federal laws to prevent this from happening.Local newspapers recount bone-chilling stories of schoolchildren tied to chairs, or with their mouths taped shut, sometimes locked in darkclosets, or pinned to the floor for hours at a time. If parents treat their kids this way, it's considered a criminal offense.But unlike in hospitals and other institutions that receive federal taxpayer funding, there are no federal protections against theseabusivepracticeswhen they happen in schools.The Children's Health Act of 2000 regulates how and when restraint and seclusion can be used in medical settings and communityfacilities. But classrooms, where students spend the majority of their day, are exempt.In the absence of a federal standard, state protections for kids are all over the map. Many states have no regulations whatsoever.Children are left vulnerable and staff untrained.Restraint and seclusion techniques should be used only as a last resort, when someone is in imminent danger of physical injury and thereare no alternatives. Without proper training, staff can be hurt and students, especially small children, are at risk.Yet the GAO and news reports confirm that these practices are used frequently, often as discipline, when students aren't physicallyaggressive. While there is no centralized reporting, data from the few states that do track incidents paints a troubling picture. In the2007-2008 school year in California alone, the GAO reports, there were more than 14,300 cases of restraint, seclusion and other
Outlaw child abuse in schools - CNN.comhttp://cnn.site.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Outlaw+c...1 of 212/12/09 1:33 PM