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New Jersey gives public and private schools a virtual free pass to forcibly restrain unruly children with disabilities.

By SHANNON MULLEN • STAFF WRITER • May 5, 2010

The deaths of two Jersey Shore youths in the 1990s at the same Pennsylvania treatment center underscored the dangers of facedown restraining holds, which are banned in some states but still legal in New Jersey.

In 1993, Jason Tallman, 12, of Barnegat died after he was placed in what is known as a prone restraint on the campus of KidsPeace, a treatment center for children with behavior problems, in North Whitehall, Pa.

The Philadelphia medical examiner’s office determined that a 200-pound counselor at the camp suffocated Tallman, who weighed 85 pounds, by sitting on him for almost a half-hour in an attempt to subdue him. The boy had arrived at the camp a day earlier and was restrained after he became upset and tried to run away. He died at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia the following day, according to media reports at the time.

In 1998, at the same facility, 14-year-old Mark Draheim of Toms River died after he was placed in a prone restraint by three counselors who held him down for 20 minutes until he lost consciousness, according to the Lehigh County district attorney. The county coroner determined that the restraint had compressed Draheim’s chest, cutting off oxygen to his brain and triggering cardiac arrest. Draheim died at Lehigh Valley Hospital Center the next day, media
reports stated.

Civil cases filed against KidsPeace by the families of both youths were settled out of court. KidsPeace admitted no negligence or wrongdoing in either settlement.

In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare halted new admissions at KidsPeace after determining that seven children had suffered broken bones as a result of being restrained by KidsPeace employees.

The following year, the public welfare department banned the use of prone restraints on children in residential treatment programs statewide.

After amending its policies, KidsPeace was allowed to accept new admissions and it continues to admit and treat children with behavior problems.

Studies have shown that prone restraints can lead to death by asphyxia, aspiration or cardiac arrest. Certain medications and underlying medical problems can heighten the risks, experts say.

Read in Full:  http://www.app.com/article/20100505/SPECIAL20/100504065/1024/POLITICS/Facedown-holds-dangerous-but-legal-in-New-Jersey

 

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