So, wow! My recent post about an 7-year-old old boy being dragged by his teacher really hit a nerve. Many of you were shocked to see the video, and thankful for tips on how to help prevent this type of abuse.
Others responded that a No-Consent Letter alone is ineffective if school personnel are not trained properly in handling crisis situations. I wholeheartedly agree! We may disagree as to whether restraint and seclusion techniques work, but I think everyone can agree that crisis prevention training can help decrease these type of incidences.
As a teacher, I was never offered any crisis intervention training. And after digging around, I found that I am not alone.
Just as there are no federal laws restricting the use of restraints and seclusion, there is also no mandate for crisis prevention training across the country. School districts lack the money it takes to properly train their personnel in non-violent crisis interventions. This will only get worse if Title II, A is cut. Title II, A is federal funding for professional development, but the Trump administration wants to scrap it completely.
Another problem is the least qualified staff are often paired with students who have disabilities and the most challenging behaviors. And now Every Student Succeeds Act no longer requires teacher to be “highly qualified,” which will likely make matters worse. The result is hundreds of cases of abuse or even death related to using restraint and seclusion techniques, according to federal figures.
Advocating for Better Crisis Prevention Training
What can you do as a parent or teacher to prevent an incident like the one in above?
First, advocate for a Non-Violent Crisis Prevention Intervention program in your school district: Find out what, if any, behavior intervention training your school staff receives. At the very least, your child’s school should have access to a behavior specialist who’s trained in non-violent crisis prevention intervention. Your child should have a Functional Behavior Assessment as soon as a problem arises. Don’t let the situation get to crisis mode.
The Crisis Prevention Institute is an international organization that has provided training to teachers for more than 35 years. Their Non-Violent Crisis Prevention Intervention includes one-day seminars that help teachers identify how behavior escalates and how to respond in appropriately during times of chaos.
The lead instructor, Maria Navone, is part of a fabulous podcast about advocating and carrying out non-violent crisis prevention intervention. She stresses that all behavior is communication. “Being able to step aside and not take this acting-out personally helps you think more clearly about what your intervention is going to be,” Navone explains.
The institute also has a 4-day Instructor Certification program. They offer on-site and online training, but it all comes with a hefty price tag. That’s why it’s important to also advocate for funding for teacher training.
Call, email, and tweet your Congressmen: Tell them not to cut Title II, A. It seems “professional development” has become a dirty word. School districts have a hard time proving the effectiveness of teacher training, and politicians can’t stomach the cost. But it’s important that Congressmen know that Title II, A could be used for non-violent crisis prevention training for teachers. If we have one less abused student, then the tax money spent is worth it.
Here’s the sample tweet I sent my Congressmen: @RepMikeTurner #TitleIIA is critical for school leaders and principals to do their jobs effectively; cuts threaten this ability. Get a sample email or call script here.
Also, advocate at the local level: You may have heard the saying “all politics is local,” and when it comes to education this is very true. Most school funding comes from local property tax. Only 5-10% of school funding comes from the federal government. That’s why it’s important to get involved with your child’s school board and advocate for better training in crisis prevention methods.