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Paris Hilton On Seclusion And Restraint In Schools: “Congress Should Do More To Protect Youth From These Practices”

During today’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Strengthening Child Welfare and Protecting America’s Children,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) asked children’s advocate and hearing witness Paris Hilton about seclusion and restraint in schools. Beyer sponsors the Keeping All Students Safe Act, legislation to ban seclusion and dangerous restraint practices from being used on children in American schools.

Paris Hilton’s response made a powerful argument against seclusion and restraint:

“From personal experience it was extremely traumatic… experiencing that on a daily basis, seeing my other peers being restrained, just for no reason. It was just, the power was abused all the time by the staff members.

“And restraint and seclusion are extremely dangerous, they create lifelong trauma. Restraints and seclusion have also led to numerous child deaths in these facilities. Cornelius Fredericks [of Michigan] was restrained until he couldn’t breathe and died at 16 years old. A 12-year-old [who so far has not been named by local authorities] in a North Carolina facility, just yesterday his death was confirmed a homicide from staff locking him in a restraint and seclusion tent overnight until he couldn’t breathe.

“Restraint and seclusion are not therapeutic – ask anyone who’s experienced it. I believe that Congress should do more to protect youth from these practices.”

Video of the exchange is linked here.

Federal data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows that restraints and seclusions happen at least 2,300 times per school day on average, affecting over 102,000 students each academic year.

Beyer assumed sponsorship of the Keeping All Students Safe shortly after being sworn in for his first term in Congress in 2015, and has reintroduced it in each session since. The bill is co-led in the House by Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott, with a Senate companion bill sponsored by Senators Chris Murphy and Patty Murray. The bill is supported by numerous student support and disability advocacy organizations.

Stories and investigations primarily conducted by state and local news outlets in recent years have documented the often traumatic consequences for children of harmful seclusion and restraint practices in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyomingall 50 states – plus the District of Columbia.