• Are restraints used only when a child truly endangers themselves or others?
  • Is the staff trained to reduce the need for restraints, apply restraints safely, and avoid the use of seclusion?

Unsafe use of restraint is one of the biggest risks children face in outdoor therapeutic and residential programs. Restraint and seclusion have no therapeutic purpose and can severely harm children when used inappropriately or for lengthy periods of time. Consequently, seclusion need never be used and restraint need only be used when a child is an immediate danger to themselves or others. Face-down restraints are the most dangerous. Quality programs do not use any kind of corporal punishment.

They don’t use disciplinary measures that reduce access to education, food or communication with parents and they never use restraint or seclusion as punishment. Restraint is avoided as much as possible and there is a debriefing for the child and the staff after every use of restraint to see when another technique could have defused the situation and to prevent recurrence. Other questions to ask:

  • What are the programs policies on seclusion and restraint?
  • How often is restraint used? Is the program engaged in a process to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion?
  • Has the use of these procedures been reduced?
  • What kind of training is provided to staff members who apply restraints?
  • Is face-down restraint ever used?