Let’s put an end to inappropriate seclusion and restraint – Sign the White House petition
January 25, 2013
January 25, 2013
Many of you will remember the Morning Zen piece we did on Bill Lichtenstein, parent of a beautiful daughter who experienced the horror of the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint (“His name is Bill – and he is fighting against seclusion and restraint”). After Bill wrote an article about his experience for the New York Times and we featured the story on the CMHNetwork website, he was, and continues to be, flooded with emails from parents who have had similar experiences. In talking with Bill I shared with him the dilemma parents face about speaking out for fear of reprisal from school boards – much like what happened to him when the Times article hit the streets. As the stories of heartache continued to mount, Bill called me and said, “We’ve got to do something to help these kids and parents.”
So we will. And so must you. We are working on several ideas for how the Network can support safe forums for parents to share their stories as well as opportunities to facilitate constructive dialogue among parents, teachers, administrators and mental health professionals about how to best address this complicated issue. As a first step, thanks to the initiative of Bill Lichtenstein, we are encouraging you to sign this White House petition asking President Obama to support the Keep All Students Safe Act. We need 25,000 signatures by February 11, 2013 to receive a formal White House response. Go to http://BIT.LY/kidspetition to sign the petition. Then post a link to this message on your Facebook page (or whatever social media platform you may use) and share this message with your friends and colleagues.
This is a no-brainer folks, whether you are a parent, young adult who has experienced the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint, teacher, therapist, administrator or concerned community member – sign the petition so that we can get the attention of the White House on this important issue. Oh, and by the way – it takes approximately one minute to sign the petition online. One minute out of the 1,440 minutes you will spend today breathin’, thinkin’ and caring about kids and families. Yep, I think you could probably spare a minute to do this simple, yet powerful act. Make a difference.
One more thing – if you need further convincing, read the long list of parent testimony, news reports from across the nation, and congressional efforts to address seclusion and restraint below.
Why should you do this? Here are just a few examples of notes we’ve gotten from parents:
My daughter is currently in Kindergarten at [elementary school]. Her needs are related to a trauma history resulting from time spent in an orphanage. The teacher, guidance counselor, principal– and even the superintendent have ignored my repeated requests to discuss her needs (which only require simple modifications of some of the teacher’s actions).
I’ve been labeled the Problem Parent and have been rewarded with silence– completely ostracized by the teacher, principal, guidance counselor and superintendent. On November 6th, Dr. […] promised in an email to respond to my request for a phone conversation or meeting. I haven’t heard from him yet.
My daughter is vomiting, begging not to go to school (She LOVED preschool and Pre-K at [name of school omitted]. As a single mom, I cannot afford independent school (although we are applying anyway). It’s illegal to keep her out of school (she’s six-years-old), but how do I send a child into a classroom where she is clearly traumatized by the teacher’s behavior?
There’s a lot more to the climate of […] Public Schools– most of it revolving around the staunch need to protect its reputation as a top school. Any hint of unhappiness or even the most constructive criticism is meet with annoyance; it’s curtly dismissed, and the parent is ostracized. In child development language (I’m a developmental psychopathologist) we call this kind of control (used by some parents) “love withdrawal technique.” It’s effective in the immediate sense, in that the so-called wrongdoer will do almost anything to be included again– to be out of isolation. More importantly, he/she learns never to commit that wrongdoing again. There’s a covert rule at [Name of school omitted] against doing or saying anything critical, regardless if how constructive or polite you may be.
A note from another parent leading a petition effort in Ohio…
I’m writing to you today because I need your help to draw attention to an important issue children are facing. Ohio has greatly misused seclusion rooms, secluding special needs children for reasons such as “not wanting to work” or “calling the teacher mean.” Ohio public schools are putting students in danger, and they don’t plan to ban the practice. We created a petition, demanding the leadership in the Ohio Department of Education ban the use of seclusion rooms. They won’t do anything until the public demands it. If we all come together, we can demand change. Will you please sign the petition, and forward it along to your supporters? Petition link is here.
Just a few articles on the misuse of seclusion and restraint…
The courts are getting involved…
Right now in the federal court case of Connor v. [Gov. Duval] Patrick, the state of Massachusetts is on trial in a class action suit that alleges that kids in MA in state care are among the most neglected and abused in the country. The suit, brought by the New York-based Children’s Rights, alleges that Mass. continues to stand apart from the rest of the country with regard to reported mistreatment and neglect of children, and to how such abuse is responded. While recent reported cases of restraints, seclusion rooms, and the neglect and abuse of kids in schools in other states have generated government, community and media concern, in Mass, as seen in the case of the notorious Judge Rotenberg Center, the response is more often than not to ignore and deny, and even to retaliate against parents. There is no explanation for the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in Mass., which takes place in the shadows of such nationally recognized institutions overflowing with child care experts as Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital, except for the economic incentives in a system that puts money in pockets of those in a system that all admit is chronically broken. The trial of Connor v. Patrick began Jan. 21, 2013 in the United States District Court for Western Massachusetts. (See: http://www.childrensrights.org/reform-campaigns/legal-cases/massachusetts/)
This is a no-brainer folks, whether you are a parent, young adult who has experienced the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint, teacher, therapist, administrator or concerned community member – sign the petition so that we can get the attention of the White House this important issue deserves.