The Ugly Reality of Restraints

As a one-time youth worker who worked with youth in an adjudicated residential setting in southern Michigan, I am dismayed by the arrogance that Martha Holden, director and co-developer of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), demonstrates in her response to accidental deaths caused by restraints. (“Restraints that Kill,” May.)

Having been fully trained in TCI while employed with Starr Commonwealth schools, it is my opinion that TCI isn’t all it professes to be. What Holden fails to mention or acknowledge is that no matter how properly executed a restraint is performed, the sheer energy of a youth who is in crisis mode and being restrained often calls for staff to make on-the-spot readjustments, reposition themselves, add additional staff in mid-restraint, or repeat the restraint.

When going through the TCI trainings, participants are exposed to a sanitized, unrealistic, mollified version of restraint that seldom, if ever, exemplifies a real restraint situation. It simply walks one through the steps of a given restraint, devoid of the physical and emotional exhaustion experienced by both parties when executing the real thing.

Although it is sad when injury or death occurs, youths who are making threatening statements and are out of control can and do pose a great danger to their peers and staff, and they must be dealt with swiftly in order to rectify the situation. If Ms. Holden is so “angered that organizations aren’t learning anything,” perhaps she should come down from her ivory tower and make the TCI trainings more reflective of the realities faced by front-line youth workers who are performing restraints in adjudicated settings.

Scott Y. Moyer

Kalamazoo, Mich.

(The writer now works at another nonprofit.)


Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Recent Comments




Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top