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Thinking Outside the Box

Blogland, March 1, 2009
There are two old sayings that come to mind when I think of seclusion rooms. One's an old Japanese saying-"The nail that sticks up get's hammered down." The other one's a saying that's commonly used in surgery-"When all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

I think that both of these principles have come to govern the use of seclusion and restraints in special education. For too many years, in too many places, children who have occasional outbursts in schools have been seen as disruptions, nuisances, drains on resources, undisciplined, bad, and generally problems to be controlled. And the tools that have been most often resorted to to remedy the situation have been the ones seen to be most expedient-the use of restraints and seclusion rooms.

It was recognized over 50 years ago in psychiatric hospitals that use of seclusion rooms and restraints increased, rather than decreased, the incidence of behaviors. Why, then, does the use of these rooms persist into modern times in schools?

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