Definition of Physical Restraint

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Sarge, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    The issue of physically restraining students is a current topic in education right now. Many schools and staff have come under fire for restraining and secluding students. In every case that has made the news, the child was either held, handcuffed, or locked into a room.

    I understand how those actions can be considered "restraint" and why they would be prohibited. However, I've been told in a "barracks lawyer" fashion that any physical handling of a student is prohibited, for any reason.

    This is the first year that I've had students who have refused to go to the time-out corner or leave the room and go to the buddy classroom. I have never had a more defiant group of first graders. Though, I have not physically restrained any of my students, I could easily see how the need might come up. Let me give a few hypothetical examples based on what my students might do.

    Example 1:

    Suppose a student is in the cafeteria and gets up and starts running around and throwing everyone's food around. The trays are Styrofoam and pose no danger of hurting anyone. However, the student refuses to stop when repeatedly told to do so. Can a trained staff member physically remove that child from the cafeteria?

    Example 2:

    Again in the cafeteria, a student gets up and starts running for the unlocked kitchen door. Of course, the kitchen is a dangerous place. Can any staff member physically hold that student back from entering the kitchen?

    Example 3

    A student attempts to run out of the classroom. Can I as a teacher hold them back to prevent them from leaving the room? I'm only restraining them from traveling in the direction of the door and entering the hallway. If they go in the direction of their desk, they are free to move.

    Example 4

    Same situation as example 4, except instead of restraining, I'm just physically blocking them.

    Example 5

    A student goes to the time out corner. They keep leaving. Is it "seclusion" if I stand in a manner that prevents them from leaving the corner.

    Example 6

    A student is disrupting the class in a manner that prevents the teacher from teaching the class. Let's say they are simply screaming loudly and repeatedly over and over for a long period of time. Or perhaps they are going about the room ripping up everyone's papers. But they are not physically endangering anyone. The child refuses to leave and go to the buddy classroom or the office. Can a trained staff member be called to physically remove that child from the room?

    I've tried looking up these scenarios, and all I get are examples of physically restraining students mainly as a form of punishment in special education classrooms. My concern is that if legislation passes with the intent of preventing this type of restraint, it will be interpreted in such a manner that it keeps staff from maintaining order in a regular education setting.
     
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  3. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Most of those situations would be seen as acceptable use of restraint in our district... however, restraint would have to be done by an administrator or someone who has the proper training (NVCI, or non crisis violent intervention as I like to call it.)

    I wouldn't consider example 4 a form of restraint, same with example five.

    For example six, it is more likely the class would leave the child and continue in another room/hall/outside, and a trained staff member (actually usually two, one as an observer) would stay in the room with the disruptive child.

    If restraints are ever used, it is absolutely vital that a witness is present as well.

    I say that it must be a trained staff, usually admin, but in most cases here, teachers that are required to work with students at risk of needing restraints are trained in this as well. As always, it is much better to have an admin do the restraining, but in a pinch, a trained teacher can do it.
     
  4. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    But what if the child does this on a regular basis. I know a teacher where this happened, and she and her students literally lost weeks of instructional time because of it. The child was not special ed or on any kind of IEP and she was stuck with him while it was determined if he had an emotional disorder.
     
  5. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Well, my general response won't be helpful, but I'd say that's a problem with your system. I think that a plan should be put in place for such situations, and it could involve removing a student from a room under those circumstances.
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    There is a student like that in my colleagues classroom. They've literally just taken him out of Math class and have him sit in the admin office with an iPad to do math using Khan Academy. He's been doing this for months now.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Yikes! Is he taking the same assessments as the rest of the class? Is he doing okay on them?
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    In my training (CPI) none of the examples above would allow for physical "restraint". CPI indicates it be used only if the child's actions put themselves or others in immediate physical harm.
     
  9. Peregrin5

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    I don't know if he is taking the same assessments, but I assume he's doing about as well on them as he is on the assessments in his other classes which is not very well at all.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    These things would not be allowed in my district. The only exception would be if the student were in immediate danger, like a fire or something. We are never allowed to forcibly lead or transport a kid for behavior reasons unless that's clearly outlined in the student's IEP, and even then only certain teachers are allowed to make contact.
     
  11. bros

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  12. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Then how do we keep from descending into a place where kids basically can do anything they want at school.

    I'm not talking about special education or kids with disabilities. I'm talking about regular education kids who have gotten the idea that we grownups cannot "make" them do anything.

    At the same time, they have not matured to the point where they seen a connection between school behavior and home consequences, if there are any consequences at all.

    Nor do they see any connection between school behavior and school consequences. In other words, the kid who runs out of the room either doesn't care about losing recess or doesn't see the connection between losing recess and destroying the classroom.

    If a campus aide cannot pick the student up and carry him out of the room, what do we do as educators when faced with that situation?
     
  13. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Unlawful restraint would entail holding all the limbs or covering the face. These things could result breathing restriction if done improperly. Seclusion is illegal because an unsupervised student (especially one with an IEP who might have impaired reasoning or emotional disturbance) could harm themselves.
     
  14. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Yep. Restraints come with the risk of physical AND mental injury to the student and the adult. According to my training, they should only be done when the student puts himself or others in immediate danger. They cannot be used to protect property, keep a child in a room, or remove a child who is screaming or disruptive.
     
  15. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    That is a very common problem. The other students suffer emotionally and educationally in these situations. BUT, it's still not a justification for restraint according to my training.
     
  16. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    That is a dangerous idea for all concerned.
     
  17. eternalsaudade

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    This is also what I learned. Physical restraint is a last resort, not a means for controlling any undesirable behavior. Deescalation techniques are what should be used first and foremost and you should not restrain a child at all if you have not received proper training.

    Depending on the situation, blocking an entrance/exit such as the unlocked kitchen door or classroom door you mentioned, could be appropriate to ensure the child's safety. Blocking a child in a corner is definitely not something I would advise doing, no matter how frustrated you are. I work in child care blocking a child in a corner or attempting to hold a child in time out would both be huge no-nos. I would think that it is similarly unacceptable with older children as well.
     
  18. eternalsaudade

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    You develop a back up plan. If it is not possible (or unsafe) to get the student out of the classroom, you take the rest of the students out of the room and ideally have them continue their work somewhere else until they are able to return to the room.
     
  19. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So, "physical restraint" is simply anytime you physically restrict a child's motion with active/added physical action. So, something as simple as walking a child forcibly out of a room by holding his hand would be considered restraint. I would not, however, consider using an open palm to deflect/block a child from accessing something/someone as being restraint, as you're merely putting yourself in between the child and his/her goal/target.

    In all the example you gave, Sarge, I believe they'd be considered restraint.

    Pretty much the golden rule of restraint is that it's used as a last resort to protect against imminent and substantial physical harm to self or others. In some cases, I've seen risk of substantial property damage as being included - if for no other reason than such damage also tends to be dangerous to people as well.

    I'm not sure of current rules in each state/locale, but I'd consider it to be best practice to only use restraint if you've been formally trained by a recognized organization - CPI, TCI, etc. This doesn't mean there are options - even physical ones - in certain situations, but restraint is generally not a good one.

    Regarding discipline - the idea of kids thinking that adults "can't do anything," that's definitely never considered to be a best practice with restraint in terms of a reason to use it, but that doesn't mean it's not a helpful byproduct of it occurring. I do agree that kids need to see that there are ultimate and final consequences - not punishment, just things that happen - if you act a certain way.

    In terms of thinking "adults can't do anything," I think there are a lot of options in terms of punishment that teachers/admin can use to demonstrate that they can actually "do something." Most of the time, I think the system of reward/punishment just isn't well thought out enough in schools, so adults feel the need to resort to restraint to show they can "do something" because they haven't thought of other things to do.

    More thoughts in response to the specific situations...
     
  20. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    With kids not going to the corner or to the buddy classroom, in systems I've designed that means they automatically go to the office, or that an administrator handles the situation. If the child won't listen to an admin, several other options become possible. One, a parent could be called to pick up the child. Second, the teacher could take the class to a designated location - e.g., the library. Third, a clause for ultimate insubordination as a reason for restraint could be instituted, though probably wouldn't be "best practice." In this situation, it would be considered an "imminent threat to physical safety" if a child doesn't respond to the highest level of authority because adults can no longer guarantee the safety of people in that situation. Still, most noncompliant children are not aggressive or violent in those situations, so it's not a solid decision, but I've seen it done.

    My experience has been, though, that 98% of kids who won't respond to a teacher will respond to an administrator, so the number of situations in which ultimate insubordination is encountered is likely to be very few.

    I might interpret that throwing food, running around, and picking up objects would pose a threat to safety. Who's to say the child wouldn't pick up a utensil, or throw food in someone's eyes, or run into someone carrying something. To me, "imminent danger" doesn't have to mean substantial physical harm, though I believe some locations do define it as such.

    So, in that situation, I would restrain (if trained, and if part of the protocol). But, I'd probably use other techniques to attempt to stop it first.

    This is really a question of whether a staff can "restrain" if it's clearly in the best interest of the child when no other option is available. Consider another: A child is running toward a pair of scissors saying he's going to stab another child. If no one is trained in restraint, the child is of manageable size, and there's no clear alternative (i.e., admin would be a long way away), I think restraint policies should allow for decisions to be made where a staff member uses his/her best judgement, and the least restraining intervention necessary (e.g., blocks access).

    Even with folks who are trained with restraint, it never goes how it does when you're training. You always have to (sort of) improvise with exact positioning. Your training just helps you make the best decision possible. When I've done staff training, I've tended to teach staff basic "physical intervention" that's helpful in those situations, but that doesn't mean the definition of "restraint." For example, using an open arm/palm posture and guiding a child away is not restraint because the child can choose to disengage with the contact and move in the other direction. It can be helpful when breaking up fights, blocking access, etc. It still poses a risk, though less so than full-on restraint.

    By definition if you're restraining they couldn't move in the other direction. If you're simply blocking access as in your next example, then they could move in any other direction, so it's not restraint.

    Not restraint.

    Chances are you're restraining, but not secluding. Seclusion would be more of something done in a separately enclosed room. It's also not likely that you would be able to "stand in a manner that prevents them from leaving the corner" without using some sort of restraint - they could just run around you.

    In my experience, attempting to block a child into a corner would demonstrate less adult control than running appropriate steps in a time-out procedure involving admin.

    Great question. The most likely proper answer is that the child should not be restrained, but that the class should be removed from the room. I've personally never seen this happen in a school setting - the child is always carried out of the room. Not even restrained, just carried out. This doesn't make it right, though.

    If it were me making the decision for the school, I would say that going around and ripping up papers and refusing to listen to adults poses an imminent physical risk, because you don't know what else the child will pick up next. There's no reason to think the child wouldn't pick up a pencil and stab someone, for example. The risk of that happening is too great, and the risk of hurting the child with proper restraint is probably much lower.

    If the child were simply making loud noises in the corner, I would not restrain. I would probably instruct the teacher to take the kids on an impromptu field trip to the library, gym, playground, etc. and deal with the situation. I'd then try to figure out why it happened and put in procedures to reduce the possibility of it happening again.

    _____

    Overall, Sarge, my thoughts are that 99% of these situations are largely preventable or so unlikely that few incidents would occur in a typical school in a typical year. When they do happen, I believe that admin should be involved immediately (therefore should be available immediately to all staff), but in the event they aren't available staff should be able to use best judgement if physical intervention presents a clear and strong advantage over no physical intervention.
     
  21. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    What we have is a lack of administrative control over primary grades. We are K-8 with a fairly low SES population, so the admin is generally preoccupied with issues regarding middle school students. There are not a lot of effective consequences for defiance to give to first graders.

    That is a very good point. There are times when certain kinds of defiance might mean that being proactive is the best course of action. In other words, you could argue that the child's behavior was consistent with a child who was about to become violent. Moreover, even if the child is merely destroying property, if it is the property of other students, then the potential for violence is very great if you consider the possibility of another child reacting violently to what the defiant child is doing.

    This too is what I was looking for. In nearly every case I've encountered, I've only needed to prevent a child from going in a single direction. If the child changed their direction of travel, then they would be free move.



    The situation I describe is one where basketball playing skills come in very handy.

    Again, often times the admin option is not available at my school. A few of he kids actually enjoy going to the office.


    We've done this. However, in many cases, there is no staff person available to supervise the child in the room, so the rest of the class loses instructional time. Sometimes a lot of instructional time.


    The non-teaching staff at my school are stretched very thin. The only paraprofessionals are assigned 100% to SDC classrooms, and much of the time, campus aides are 100% deployed supervising the hallways and the playground. Quite frequently, I call the office and it goes to voice mail because they are busy dealing with serious issues regarding middle school students. And we are one of the better-run schools in the district.

    Nothing I've suggested are things that a good parent would not do with their own child in a similar situation. If you are at the store or restaurant, and a child has a tantrum and refuses to stop, what do you do? You take them and leave. And if the child refuses to leave, what do you do? You pick them up and carry them.

    What I would gladly settle for is a "credible threat" where the kids would know that there was an absolute endpoint with regard to defiance even if they didn't care about any after-the-fact consequence. (Imagine a student who doesn't care about losing recess, field trips or "fun Friday" and who's parents think their child getting in trouble at school is funny). Moreover, it needs to be one where the child knows that I will get to do my job no matter what and no amount of defiance will stop me from teaching the rest of the kids what they need to learn.
     
  22. EdEd

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    That makes sense, and I know schools aren't perfect. I guess my main point is that rather than increasing restraint, it probably makes sense to increase admin support with noncompliance first. I realize that's not in your control, though.

    Yeah, I largely agree. I don't think a kid has to be holding a knife to be considered in substantial risk of harm.

    Exactly, and it's pretty simple. Side note - typically I've been taught and teach that blocking and escorting the aggressee (not the aggressor) is more effective as they're more likely to go with you. Once you can get some distance generally things calm down as a lot of times fights are about posturing and proof of strength rather than actually wanting to inflict as much damage as possible.

    Haha - yes!

    Always a problem, and frustrating when it's that way.

    I think strategy #1 is having a plan for all disciplinary situations - a protocol which everyone follows all the time, and involves admin. So, for example, if a staff member calls the office and requests immediate support, someone should come 100% of the time unless they are literally involved in emergency situations in other classrooms. If no admin are available, a counselor or other person is called - at least to have someone else present. I realize, again, that this isn't your call to make, but certainly would be helpful to have in place.

    I'd also say that a one time situation is different from a recurring situation. Instructional time isn't so much an issue with a one time situation as it would be with something ongoing, which brings in a whole set of additional intervention strategies that involve attempting to reduce the problem behavior.

    As a side note, there is a set of strategies/approach to behavior called "reduction of episodic severity" which involves implementing strategies not for the long-term benefit of behavioral change, but just to be able to more efficiently manage problem behaviors in the moment. For example, it may not be good to give in to a child's demand in a situation (e.g., let them not do their work when tantrumming and throwing objects). However, the alternative (enforcing work and having to manage physically out of control behavior) may be too costly. So, the staff member may choose "strategic capitulation" which basically means giving in for the point of reducing the severity of the particular behavioral episode. Then, staff can come together and brainstorm a more long-term fix.

    The whole point is that if implementing a particular behavioral strategy may be "good" but beyond reasonable/possible, or would involve something too risky such as restraint, then avoiding escalation of that incident may be more important than teaching behavior in that particular situation.

    Again I know this is out of your control, but I'd suggest walkie talkies used between the office and support personnel, with someone always answering the office phone. If an admin isn't available, an aide can be diverted from a lesser important situation such as supervising the hallway to a more immediate need such as physically out of control behavior.

    Sure, I think parents are in a different position though. I wouldn't usually expect a parent to use proper restraint techniques in a grocery store. Part of this is a liability/legal issue, no doubt.

    I absolutely agree that there needs to be a well-defined endpoint, whether that's a call home, restraint, call to the police, etc. I think staff feel much more comfortable when they know those endpoints too, and behavior generally improves. I guess those endpoints can be different based on the school, available resources, local law, etc., but I 100% agree it needs to be defined.
     
  23. 2ndTimeAround

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    Threads like this make me very glad that my children are older. The lunatics are definitely running the asylum if you *have to allow a 5 year old to destroy a room, his classmates' and teacher's belongings and destroy any attempt at anyone getting a chance to learn that day.

    It also makes me very concerned about walking down the street at night. Because in ten years these hellions, after a decade of being able to do whatever they want, will be criminals.
     
  24. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I should have also pointed out that I'm generally talking about very young children here - pre-k to first grade. This is because very young students generally do not understand consequences. I used to say to my high school and middle school students "I cannot make you do anything you are told to do. But I can make you wish that you did what you were told to do." If I said that to my first graders, they would have no clue what I was talking about.

    At the end of the day, I have my students go out into the court yard in front of the classroom. It connects to main corridor that leads to the entrance to the school. Often, it is not time for dismissal, but the kids sometimes think it is and attempt to walk into the corridor and run off. I will sometimes position myself at the entrance to the corridor and intercept any students that try to leave. Often, they will attempt a flanking maneuver and I will literally have to "catch" them in order to stop them from leaving. Is that restraint?


    As I mentioned in my original post, whenever I looked up physical restrain in schools, all I could find were examples of staff holding students in an immobile, stationary position, often as a form of behavior modification (i.e. punishment or consequence).

    Never did any of the articles say whether "restraint" included the handling of a student in order to move them in a direction they did not want to go or to prevent them from going in a direction they wanted to go.
     
  25. JustMe

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    I am not trained...only a few people in the school are. But I sure as heck prevented a very behaviorally challenged six year old from running out of the building recently. I am not allowing a kid to possibly run into traffic. Common sense has to prevail sometimes.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That seems like a pretty clear example of an imminent safety issue, though, which I think most would agree is appropriate.

    Where I have some concerns is when a teacher wants to use physical force to address other behavior issues that aren't related to safety, like if a kid isn't following directions.
     
  27. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I'm pretty sure that there is not a student in my classroom, perhaps the entire school, who's parents would not want their child physically restrained if they were in the process of destroying a classroom. And that includes the parents of the students who might actually be inclined to do so.

    It would be a very interesting legal case if a child were to destroy a room because the school chose to evacuate the classroom rather than remove the child, and his or her parents were subsequently billed for the damage. In my opinion, they would have a good case in saying that they didn't have to pay because the child was allowed to destroy the classroom
     
  28. JustMe

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    Well, technically I prevented him from leaving my room which some people would say I shouldn't have done. But if he gets out of my room, the next door he passes could be an exit...
     
  29. Loomistrout

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    May have changed but I recall some time back a "directive" by administration at a school I taught - went something like ... a teacher is not liable if it is proven he/she used equivalent physical means a reasonable parent would use in restraining their child. A teacher is liable if it is proven he/she demonstrated malice towards a student. I think they were getting at a teacher can prevent a student from trashing a room as long as it is prevention and not adding on discipline with pain control.

    I remember a teacher coming to me for help with a second-grade student. He had crawled under his desk, balled up and was refusing to budge. This happened just before recess so class was let out on playground. I asked if he had any friends in the class. The teacher gave me three names. I went on the playground and brought the three back to the classroom. I explained the situation. The three friends talked the kid out from under his desk (I think it was 4-square that did the trick). My point is a lot of dealing with outrageous students has to do, as EdEd suggested, with a lack of training in sophisticated discipline in general and dealing with the angry-alienated specifically.
     
  30. gr3teacher

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    I have a girl in my room who is escalating behaviorally, and we just put a crisis plan in place for her (with no input whatsoever from me... I wasn't even aware it was being done until it was finalized... sigh...), which basically says that if I don't have an extra adult in my room and can't reach an administrator immediately, I need to get my other 27 students out of the classroom and just let the student do what she wants in my classroom.
     
  31. 2ndTimeAround

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    That's what I've seen before. :(

    One student destroyed other students' backpacks. When two parents sent a bill to the parents of the kid that acted out, the principal intercepted and said that she wouldn't pass it along. Of course addresses were confidential. It wouldn't have mattered anyhow - the kid's mother wouldn't have paid for them. No way.
     
  32. Proud2BATeacher

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    We get students who destroy classrooms in my school. I refuse to let this happen in my classroom. I find there is a domino effect when this happens, especially in my school (a school for students with severe behaviors), as once one student is allowed to destroy a classroom, their classmates who never even thrown things before, think it's okay to destroy the classroom when they are upset. Asking students to clean up or to re-tape ripped papers is not a big enough deterrent for our students.

    This year I have a student who rips up other student's work when he's angry. I make him not only pay for the tape that he uses (my students earn "money" that is used to shop in our classroom store), but when he gets upset, I also gather all of his "pictures" and tell him that I have noticed that when he becomes upset that he has to rip up people's things so I have brought him things that he can rip up into as many pieces as he wants. I do pass him his pictures as he's looking around for papers to rip... I had a student who threw things last year, so I brought over his book bag and took everything out (including his lunch) and told him that I know he likes throwing things when he's upset, so I brought him some things that he can throw and no one will get upset with him about throwing it. It's funny how much self control a student can have when it is their things getting ripped, thrown or broken. :whistle:
     

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