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Of course, the responsibility doesn’t lie solely with school administrators, or teachers for that matter. Parents of children with behavioral issues must be willing to work closely with school staff to help them better understand their children and the types of situations and stimuli that can lead to outbursts. The better teachers know the student, the more likely they’ll be able to create a safe and supportive environment.
Finally, policymakers and legislators can play an important role by creating sensible and realistic standards and regulations to assure that every school is safe for students and teachers alike. Some states are already doing a good job of dealing with this issue and can offer valuable lessons to officials and lawmakers in other states.
Ideally, legislators should be working with experienced behaviorists to create uniform guidelines that could be adopted by each state.
Everyone wants safe schools. However, any approach that legitimizes seclusion and restraint undermines safety while marginalizing our society’s most vulnerable children. We can — and must — do better for our children.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) is a member of the Energy and Commerce, House Administration and Ethics committees.