New Hampshire School Restraint Law

126-U:4 Prohibition of Dangerous Restraint Techniques. –
No school or facility shall use or threaten to use any of the following restraint and behavior control techniques:  Any physical restraint or containment technique that:

    • Obstructs a child’s respiratory airway or impairs the child’s breathing or respiratory capacity or restricts the movement required for normal breathing;
    • Places pressure or weight on, or causes the compression of, the chest, lungs, sternum, diaphragm, back, or abdomen of a child;
    • Obstructs the circulation of blood;
    • Involves pushing on or into the child’s mouth, nose, eyes, or any part of the face or involves covering the face or body with anything, including soft objects such as pillows, blankets, or washcloths; or
    • Endangers a child’s life or significantly exacerbates a child’s medical condition.
  1. The intentional infliction of pain, including the use of pain inducement to obtain compliance.
  2. The intentional release of noxious, toxic, caustic, or otherwise unpleasant substances near a child for the purpose of controlling or modifying the behavior of or punishing the child.
  3. Any technique that unnecessarily subjects the child to ridicule, humiliation, or emotional trauma.

126-U:5 Limitation of the Use of Restraint to Emergencies Only.

  1. Restraint shall only be used in a school or facility to ensure the immediate physical safety of persons when there is a substantial and imminent risk of serious bodily harm to the child or others. The determination of whether the use of restraint is justified under this section may be made with consideration of all relevant circumstances, including whether continued acts of violence by a child to inflict damage to property will create a substantial risk of serious bodily harm to the child or others. Restraint shall be used only by trained personnel using extreme caution when all other interventions have failed or have been deemed inappropriate.
  2. Restraint shall never be used explicitly or implicitly as punishment for the behavior of a child.

Note: Rule 136-U:5 Standard of Intervention Conflicts with New Hampshire Law Including:

    • 627.1 (Civil Immunity);
    • 627.4 (Defense of a Person)
    • 627.6 (Physical Force [Used] by Persons With Special Responsibilities).
      • A teacher or person otherwise entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor for special purposes is justified on the premises in using necessary force against any such minor, when the minor creates a disturbance, or refuses to leave the premises or when it is necessary for the maintenance of discipline.
    • 627.8 (Defense of Property)

Under the two elements of in loco parentis, educators have the right to act as parents when controlling students; concomitantly, they have the duty to act like the parent when protecting students from foreseeable harm. Thus school officials not only act like parents, they also have responsibilities that parents do not have, namely a duty to protect all students.

Conflict: The legal standard of intervention in New Hampshire Statute is imminent harm, whereas the standard of intervention in New Hampshire Code is serious bodily harm.  Serious bodily harm means an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious, permanent disfigurement or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any body part or organ.  Under this intervention standard, teachers would not be able to intervene for most fights, broken arms, concussions, knife wounds that do not puncture vital organs or blood flow, simple fractures etc.  This creates a conflict within New Hampshire Law.  Further, teachers have a duty to protect and have criminal and civil immunity if they use reasonable force in accordance with a reasonable person standard.

Disclaimer. Nothing in this post is intended to create an attorney client relationship.  Nothing written or spoken constitutes legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice. There may be additional laws, rules, policies applicable to the use of restraint and force in your state. The above is an overview of information compiled from individual sources that are maintained and
updated with varying frequencies. While we attempt to keep the information current, readers should read the source information directly,  go to the source to check for updates or conduct further research.  For information and/or legal advice, consult with your attorney or States Attorney General.