In the interest of FULL DISCLOSURE, one of the families mentioned in today's article was once served by our ministry. We love and serve EVERYONE. However, given the type of contact we have with families, we certainly don't always have full knowledge of what is going on in the home.
That being said, those in the special needs community, especially those in the autism world or mental health world, are aware of a long time fight against restraint an seclusion particularly in schools.
However, this weekend's "winners" offer a difficult, complex view of this issue.
What do you do when the one guilty of inappropriate restraint and seclusion is the parent? This past week another local parent was charged with tying her 12 year old son with autism to his bed or chair while she showered or tried to sleep at night. She has been found guilty of leaving him secured like this while she ventured out of the home, thus, resulting in her loss of custody.
This story comes after the May charging of a mother and step-father with imprisonment of their daughter on the autism spectrum in a nearby suburb. The 13 year old was allegedly locked in her basement after school as well as arriving at school in horrific condition.
These stories are ABSOLUTELY heartbreaking! And while those of us who would walk over hot coals for our children have a tough time making sense out of them, we certainly don't know the exact circumstances of these parents or what caused them to behave the way they did. Remember what Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church has been known to say, "Given the right set of circumstances, any of us are capable of any sin."
At the same time, I think we live in a completely incongruent culture. While we are arresting and charging parents, removing children from their custody, we have law enforcement doing the same thing!
In case you missed it, half the nation seems to be talking about 2 young children in Kentucky who were handcuffed by a school resource officer. One was an 8 year old boy. Another was a 9 year old girl. The young boy was actually caught on video being mishandled by this school officer. With the handcuffs too large for his wrists, the boy had his biceps restrained behind his back despite complaining of pain.
My point is this: While there are times where children become so out of control that they need to be subdued in appropriate ways, we cannot credibly chastise parents when law enforcement is guilty of violating these same standards. If appropriate care of a child is to be enforced, then it must also be modeled.
As a mother who has previously had a child in detention for physical altercations as school, I can most emphatically state that the situation in itself was upsetting enough for my child. Adding trauma through this sort of restraint would have only assured that I would never get my child to cooperate with returning to school again.
We like to pretend we are so evolved at this time in history with our treatment in children. These awful restraint situations demonstrated we still have a very long way to go. If municipal officials are going to be enforcing proper care in the home, they had best begin proper training and model it themselves.
~ Barb Dittrich
For further examination:
- Years of neglect? Greendale mother accused of tying her young son, who has autism, to a bed
- Why was nothing done? Officials knew for a year about girl with autism forced to live in basement
- Parents sue officer who handcuffed kids with special needs
- US Department of Education - LAWS & GUIDANCE: Restraint and Seclusion
- STOP HURTING KIDS (Restraint and Seclusion Issue Advocacy)