When Discipline Turns Deadly

   By drodriguez  Mar 04, 2010

Most of us trust the schools we send our kids to each day to treat our children in a similar manner to the way we treat them at home.  When it comes to disciplining our children, we expect teachers to deal with these issue in a humane way to solve the problem.  However, it seems this is not always the way it works in many schools around the country.

A recent article from USA Today reports about parents, Don and Tina King, from Georgia who lost their 13-year-old son, Jonathan, when he hung himself after being placed in a "seclusion cell" at school for hours.  The Kings are now in the process of trying to get this type of disciplinary action banned in schools across the country.  Though seclusion or confinement policies in schools are controversial, 19 states currently have no regulations regarding this type of punishment according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.  

One of the most surprising and controversial aspects of seclusion and restraint as punishment in schools is that most parents have no idea that it is even going on.  Don King told USA Today that he was completely unaware that his son received this type of discipline.  Kings say, "It took the death of my son for everybody to start listening about this problem.  I wish we had known they were locking him up like that or we would have taken him out of that school.  They treated my kid like a prisoner."

Leslie Lipson, from the Georgia Advocacy Office, reveals some startling incidences that have occurred over the years within the school system.  Lipson says, "We have seen instances of restraint and seclusion where teachers and other officials have used Velcro, duct tape, hog tying - kids locked in storage closets.  All sorts of perversions."  According to a 2009 federal report, there have been at least 20 deaths since 1990 reported that were due to restricted breathing tactics used as discipline.

What do you think of using seclusion or restraint as a form of discipline within the school system?

What type of disciplinary tactics would you feel comfortable with teachers and school officials using to handle a child with behavior problems?

Make a Comment

BarbNelson by BarbNelson | Tacoma, WA
May 24, 2010

If a child behaves so badly that they have become a disturbance to the class/school, the teachers should seperate them from other students, but not in seclusion or isolation. They should be in a room with the principal or school councelor until parents can be reached to come and pick them up. It is NOT up to teachers to discipline a child, it is up to the parents. School punishments should be restricted to trying to talk to the child in a calm manner to resolve the issue, in or out of school suspension, or in the worst case, expulsion.

mommaduck by mommaduck | SAINT CHARLES, MO
May 21, 2010

No they should not be in seclusion rooms, that is awful they are not in jail. if they did something bad call the parent and the police if necessary. have the parent get the off the premise. if they cant come get the police. This is awful that schools are doing this and if it was my child it was happening to i would sue the school and pull them out immediatley. There is detention, saturday, suspension send them to a disciplinary hearing or there are now bd classes and put them there (for behavior discipline students). these are all things i could deal with but dont lock them up they are not criminals they are teenagers or younger

Marylandgurl2002 by Marylandgurl2002 | Fayetteville, NC
Apr 13, 2010

Humans are not animals. We should not be locked up especially children unless being punished for a severere crime and found guilty. IF teachers can not handle a 13 year old andresolves to locking them up for misbehaving in my opionin they should have to resign. I hope the school gets what the deserve

Livvy525 by Livvy525 | Tinley Park, IL
Apr 12, 2010

I am sixteen years old. (Yes, I am that young. Hah.) I am a student myself, and to hear about this breaks my heart. I have an 11 year old sister that comes home and complains about school constanly, but to think that those complaints may actually be real issues scares me. I want to feel like my brother and sister are safe at school, as well as myself. I do agree with the woman above me who says that it is not the seclusion procedure that did this, it is the way that the teacher went about secluding the child. I am not in any way trying to justify what happened to this little boy, because that is horrible. I would be devastated if my 14 year old brother was being punished like this at school, and the outcome was something as extreme as this. All we can do for now is pray for these parents and this boy's extended family, that they somehow find some sort of peace in this tragedy.

olivialamaestra by olivialamaestra | Bryan, OH
Mar 25, 2010

I think that people are missing the point of this story. This story clearly reflects a MISUSE and ABUSE of seclusion procedures. When people die in restraint it is because service providers are MISUSING restraint procedures. What do you think the police are going to do if they are called to intervene when a child is posing a threat to the safety of themself or others? They are going to restrain that child, probably with handcuffs, and then there will likely be criminal charges to be dealt with. Certainly, parents should ALWAYS be made aware of restraint and seclusion policies, but kneejerk reactions to misuses and abuses of these procedures may ultimately harm students even more.

bbred57 by bbred57 | Springfield, MN
Mar 06, 2010

There is something very wrong when a school system uses this type of discipline for children in a school. There should be discipline but not to the detriment of a childs mental and physical health. Those teachers and administrators should be prosecuted and liable for his death. It is too bad someone did not come forward and inform the boys parents or any parent that this was happening in the schools. I would assume that this was not the first time that it had happened. People need to come forward and stop the abuse of all the children in these schools. Again, discipline is needed in schools but the right type of discipline, nothing that is going to harm them and when discipline action is taken, the parents need to be informed.

mardel by mardel | SCHAUMBURG, IL
Mar 04, 2010

I believe in some sort of discipline at school but not a physical one. That's up to the parents. How I ask myself those parents in that school responsible for that kids death had no sort of clue what was going on in there!? I talk to my kids and ask about there days good or bad all the time! If that poor kid was a trouble maker towards the schools staff or was being a bully towards his class mates than it was the schools responsibility to have notified his parents right away! I am outraged because I have three children and I would be devastated if anything like this happened to one of them! The school and his teacher should be prosecuted for child abuse!!

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Mar 04, 2010

its is pretty sad to know that it takes a death of someone to make it heard how serious an issue is. such as bullying. most parents don't believe thier kids because its the age of "imagination" and "exageration", but would it have hurt to checked it out? no. when i was working at the Y as a counselor, i would always go to training where they teach you how NOT to treat kids. Neglection is one of the worst abuse to give a child.

gypsy4360 by gypsy4360 | ELEANOR, WV
Mar 04, 2010

This should never be allowed. Our high school had ALC, aka the alternative learning center. It was a room, made to deal with students with these kind of problems. There were several desks lined against a wall with dividers between them. The students were given the classwork and homework the other students were doing to keep them busy. The kids were not allowed in the regular classroom for the amount of time deemed appropriate by the admins. They were not allowed to talk to each other. However, there was a teacher there at all times. The students were never touched by anyone! They were not restrained in anyway. Also, if a child was put in ALC, the parents were notified. To tie, tape, restrain in any way should never be allowed, EVER!!! If things have gotten to this point, call the parents, the cops, an ambulance, but never touch the child.

cybrown551 by cybrown551 | HOOKSETT, NH
Mar 04, 2010

First of all if a child requires special attention then that child needs to be in a proper setting away from other children because that child may danger himself or other children. And this situation should have been addressed before anything of this nature could have taken place. My deepest regards go out to the parents and the children who had to witness such an event.