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Schools Can Legally Handcuff Kids, Lock Them in 'Scream Rooms' (Video)

Children were put in physical restraints or forcibly placed into isolation rooms (also called "scream rooms") more than 267,000 times in the U.S. in 2012.

According a ProPublica analysis of new federal data, many public schools have employees pin kids facedown, lock them in scream rooms, and tie children up with "straps, handcuffs, bungee cords and duct tape."

ABC News interviewed several children who had been restrained and placed in scream rooms, which are often just dark closets (video below).

ProPublica notes that 75 percent of the kids who were restrained had "physical, emotional or mental disabilities," and the discipline has "caused head injuries, bloody noses, broken bones and death."

The Government Accountability Office stated in 2009 that 20 kids had died while being restrained or isolated from 2009 to 1989.

However, the American Association of School Administrators, which represents high level school officials and personnel in senior positions, defends this practice.

In a 2012 paper entitled Keeping Schools Safe: How Seclusion and Restraint Protects Students and School Personnel, the American Association of School Administrators stated: "We believe the use of seclusion and restraint has enabled many students with serious emotional or behavioral conditions to be educated not only within our public schools, but also in the least restrictive and safest environments possible."

Fox News reported earlier this year that Connecticut teachers and school officials placed students in scream rooms and physically restrained them more than 30,000 times. Of the kids that were restrained or put in scream rooms, 40 percent had autism and 53 percent were either black or Latino.

Amazingly, many states do not require the school to notify the parent that their child has been restrained or put in a scream room. In most states, schools can restrain and isolate kids even when there is no imminent danger, notes ProPublica.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) has been pushing for new laws to regulate this type of punishment.

"I'm just stunned that you can take an action of seclusion or restraint that turns out to be harmful in almost all instances to the student and there's no notification to the parent," said Rep. Miller. "It's so fundamental, you don't traumatize children."

However, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) has blocked bills that would establish federal standards for how schools can restrain students.

"Chairman Kline believes state officials and school leaders are best equipped to determine appropriate policies that should be in place to protect students and to hold those who violate those policies accountable," Alexandra Haynes Sollberger, communications director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, told ABC News in 2012.

Sources: ABC News, American Association of School Administrators, ProPublica, Fox News


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