Public policy on physical restraint of children with disabilities in public schools

James K. McAfee, Christopher Schwilk, Megan Mitruski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The US Constitution, federal and state legislatures, courts, and regulations permit physical restraint for both therapeutic (i.e., behavior change) and risk prevention purposes. Although most venues limit restraint as punishment, no government entity prohibits use of physical restraint as a response to imminent danger. This paper provides a comprehensive view of public policy of the most common form of restraint- an educator using his or her body to limit movement of a student so as to reduce risk of harm during an episode of dangerous behavior. Such restraint has been upheld by courts and requires quick decisions following careful training of educators. The intent of this paper is to provide a policy framework within which public educators (administrators, teachers and others) may develop specific practices to protect themselves and others from injury and legal action. Discussion concludes with recommendations for policies and procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-728
Number of pages18
JournalEducation and Treatment of Children
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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