Washington, D.C. – Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in conjunction with the recent Senate HELP Committee hearing on the use of restraint and seclusion of students:
“I applaud Senator Harkin for his efforts to limit the use of barbaric and coercive punishments in our nation’s public schools. The recent hearing highlighted the alarming rate at which students are being strapped down or excluded from their peers.
During the 2009-2010 school year alone, there were 39,000 recorded incidents of physical, mechanical, or chemical restraint. These practices are harmful for all children. The civil rights community is especially troubled that students with disabilities and minorities are disproportionately subjected to these obsolete methods of working with youth. Students with disabilities account for 70 percent of those who have been restrained, while African-American and Latino students are restrained at twice the rate of their classmates.
In addition, ineffective seclusion and restraint practices also help perpetuate the school–to-prison pipeline. They must be stopped. Our schools should promote learning and personal growth, not create fear and distrust of authority.”
Nancy Zirkin is executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.