Ban PsychIatric Restraints

That are Killing Children


Institutional Racism in the Psychiatric Industry Targets Minorities with Restraints

Tragically, “I can’t breathe,” which has become the uniting message in protests against racial injustice, is an all-too common cry from children during restraint use in psychiatric hospitals and why the practice should be banned.

Parents looking for help for their children do not expect them to be harmed during the course of “mental health treatment,” let alone killed. Yet potentially lethal physical and chemical restraints are often used in psychiatric and behavioral facilities throughout the U.S. and around world. It isn’t a question of whether children die from psychiatric restraints, but rather whose child will be next.  No child should be physically or chemically restrained with cocktails of mind-altering drugs. Minority children in particular, are more often targeted for brutal restraint practices in mental institutions.

In some behavioral facilities’ internal surveillance videos have shown children being repeatedly physically restrained, including a 9-year-old boy that a mental health technician grabbed by the neck, pushed against a wall, then slammed to the ground. This is not “therapy” for children’s protection, it is assault. Restraint use violates basic constitutional rights, such as life and liberty interests and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. 

Until this brutal assault is banned, parents should be aware they can obtain legal recourse should their child be harmed.

The Restraint Death of 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick

On April 29, 2020, 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick, an African American, was physically restrained at Sequel Youth & Family Services’ Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a residential psychiatric facility that treated foster care and other kids with behavioral issues. Cornelius went into cardiac arrest while being restrained by Lakeside Academy staff. According to the family’s attorney, Cornelius started yelling, “I can’t breathe!” before passing out. Thirty hours later, on May 1, he was dead. A witness to Cornelius’s restraint said, “[T]his kid threw a sandwich. He was being unruly and they couldn’t control him. So, four guys…the size of rugby players tackled him.”

Cornelius Frederick
Cornelius Frederick, 16 years old

Cornelius had been a ward of the state since 2014, after his mother passed away and his father’s parental rights were revoked, according to Jon Marko, the civil rights attorney representing Frederick’s family.

The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Frederick’s manner and cause of death was a homicide and three staff—Michael Mosley, Zachary Solis and Heather McLogan—were charged in June 2020 with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse. Mosley and Solis were also accused of restraining Frederick in a “grossly negligent manner,” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting announced.

Tragically, “I can’t breathe,” which has become the uniting message in protests against racial injustice, is an all-too common cry from children during restraint use in psychiatric hospitals and why the practice should be banned.

Nationwide, Sequel Youth & Family Services has come under government scrutiny over its treatment of foster care and other youth and use of restraints. Starr-Albion Prep in Albion, MI, was the subject of nearly 60 investigations since 2014 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Reports showed that staffers in 2018 restrained youths unnecessarily and used unapproved techniques, in one case breaking a child’s thumb.

In August 2019, Sequel’s Red Rock Canyon School in Utah closed after “numerous accounts of mistreatment, abuse, acts of violence and overall disrespect toward residents.” Three months later, Sequel Pomegranate in Columbus, Ohio, came under scrutiny when video footage showed a nurse attempting to restrain a patient, "wrapped her left arm around a patient’s neck,” “took the patient to the floor,” “kicked,” and “appeared to strike the patient five times with a closed fist in the face/head region.” The child had sustained a concussion a month prior.

In the U.S. African Americans and minorities are at highest risk of restraint use.

Petition for Justice for Cornelius

Fight for Kids supports a petition started by the Michigan Center for Youth Justice, calling for the shut down of Sequel Youth and Family Services operations in Michigan and around the country. Please sign the petition to get justice for Cornelius and shut Sequel down, which Fight for Kids supports.

The fact is that restraint use should be banned across the boards. CCHR and its Fight For Kids campaign, has been documenting child restraint deaths in psychiatric facilities, especially those in for-profit behavioral hospitals, for decades.  This criminal abuse of children must be stopped and laws passed to prevent the murder of children under the guise of mental health.

Until laws ban restraint use, file criminal complaints and civil lawsuits if your child is damaged from being physically or chemically restrained. If your child has been abused, you can report this to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

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