Public schools in Illinois are accused of punishing children as young as 5 years old by putting them in "quiet rooms" where they banged their heads against walls, soiled their clothes, and begged to be let out.
According to the report via Daily Mail, there are more than 20,000 documented incidents involving locking "problematic" children in rooms from 2017-2018 alone, and now the state is taking emergency action to get rid of the practice.
An investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica revealed that many of the kids sent to the seclusion rooms have emotional and behavioral disabilities. One child mentioned in a Daily Mail article who was sent to one of those rooms in first grade was diagnosed with autism when he was three, and has suffered from epileptic seizures since he was five. He was allegedly sent to the quiet room after he ripped up a math worksheet and tried to leave the school.
The investigation found that more than a third of incidents were due to causes other than safety reasons.
Isolation of "problematic" children in seclusion rooms is legal in 31 states. In Illinois, school officials are legally required to monitor the children in those rooms and take note of their behavior in detailed reports.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker called the practice "appalling" and said he will work with legislators to end it.
Under Minnesota law, seclusion is classified as an "allowable procedure" for care providers, along with physical escort, physical holding, and limited use of mechanical restraints only under emergency situations.
Read more here.