Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Show Some Restraint

When Anastasia from Sweet Butter Bliss heard about the death of a Child due to restraint in a Texas Residential Treatment Center (RTC), she asked me to do a guest post for her blog on what it is like for the kid being restrained.  My gut reaction was “I still have a very hard time talking about that…"  (That must mean it is something I need talk about.)  So I agreed, and asked her for a trade.  I would do a guest post for her on being restrained (here) as a child and she would do one for me as someone who has to be willing to restrain a child as part of her job.  Here is what Anastasia has to say:  

I work at a Residential Treatment Center. An RTC for short. I work with kids who were either given up or taken from their homes. Sometimes it's because the parents did nothing wrong but they just can't handle the kid. But usually it's because the parents are asshats and the kid has been raised by said asshats and came out with any number of sociological and psychological  problems. And the asshats throw their hands up in the air and shipped them off .

If I think too hard about the treatment of some of these sad faces I get angry. And their is nothing I can do about it. I try to focus on the girls now and do what I can to get them to trust me and I try to make them laugh as often as possible. They haven't had enough laughter in their lives. Not to get all hippy on you here but I feel like their problems all stem from not getting enough love from day one. So I try and remember that when they are trying our patience. It's all attention seeking behavior. 

Recently a boy in a Texas RTC died from a restraint. He was basically smothered to death. According to the news story the boy was restrained by one person, in a closet and died from asphyxiation.  My first problem was why the fuck were they in a closet? Secondly one man restraints are frowned upon, they are unsafe for the child and the restrainer. And the smothering, it takes some time to smother someone to death. It's not like in the movies. The child would have gone limp after losing consciousness and the employee should have let go immediately and called 911.  Obviously there's no proof, but the employee would have had to continue to "restrain" (i.e. smother)  him for a while after he passed out for him to die. And if you dig further you find out that Texas Department of Child Safety already had this treatment center on probation. Because two other children had died during restraints, and the staff had made two developmentally disabled girls fist fight over a snack. You know what they're probation included? No new placements. What the fuck? Two children die and the staff manipulating mentally ill children. But they are still open? The government had a hand in this boys death. Period.

I'm sorry. I'm ranting. Where I work we only do restraint if the child is going to hurt themselves or someone else. And some kids we don't even do restraints, either they are too big and will hurt us, or because it traumatizes them more. It has to be a two person restraint and if the child goes limp we release immediately. We have constant classes on restraint reduction. Restraint is our very last resort. 

At the beginning of my shift I had to perform a short personal restraint. That just means I held their arm or hand to prevent them from hurting me or themselves. And I still feel bad about it. I feel like I violated her space and should have talked to her more. Every time I feel bad, during it and afterwards. It makes me sick to think of Sunday going through the things she went through. I want to hug her, but she probably has trust issues.  

These kids are put in a place that they are supposed to feel safe and have people they trust in their lives. And when the kids are abused, mistreated, neglected or manipulated they just retreat further into themselves and we wonder why they age out and go right back into the system as adults, or why their children end up in the system. I wish I had some call to action to give you, but their aren't any petitions to sign, or bills to get passed. These are the forgotten children. If you have them, just go hug and kiss your children and try really hard not to be an asshat while raising them.

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