Bill Might Halt Handcuffs On School Kids

Jan 8, 2015

Delegate Bell spent the last ten years of his teaching career in Special Ed.

Last fall's controversial handcuffing and shackling of a Greene County pre-schooler might have been prevented by a new bill that could soon make its way through the General Assembly.

Delegate Dickie Bell will introduce a measure calling on the state’s Education Department to regulate the use of restraints on students. His bill was already in the works when he heard that an officer had cuffed and shackled a four-year-old.

"The incident in Greene County, as far as I'm concerned, was totally unacceptable. I can't think of a single instance where you would have to take those measures against a child that age."

The Staunton-based lawmaker, a retired Special Ed teacher, wants to mandate training for educators and officers to handle a potentially escalating student confrontation.

Boston-area consultant David Lennox explains.

"There are a lot of bad ways to de-escalate a student. In fact, many of the untrained ways end up leading to a power struggle with the student where the student becomes resistive, oppositional, and that would just lead to further escalation."

That’s what happened with her son, contends the mother of that 4-year-old in Greene, while the County Sheriff defends the restraints as safety measures for an out-of-control child.

Delegate Bell hopes that in the future, whenever restraints are used or whenever a student is placed in seclusion that such measures are governed by this bill.

"Hopefully, it'll be something that has an intervention in place or the means for an intervention in place besides just putting handcuffs and shackles on our children."

Lawmakers convene at the capitol on Wednesday.