Abuse and Neglect

Young boy on bench

Abuse & Neglect

Adults and children with disabilities have the right to be free from abuse and neglect and from unnecessary restraint and seclusion.

Know Your Rights

Abuse and neglect comes in many forms. When this treatment comes at the hands of people who are supposed to be taking care of us, it is a violation of our humanity and the very foundation of human rights. People with disabilities living in institutional settings, like nursing facilities, hospitals, and correctional facilities, are some of the most vulnerable to mistreatment. The closed nature of institutional settings increases the risk of abuse and neglect, especially in stressful, underfunded, poorly monitored environments.

Abuse and neglect include an act or failure to act while providing care or treatment resulting in injury or death to the person with a disability.  Abuse includes things like sexual abuse, physical violence, excessive force, and the illegal use of physical, mechanical, or chemical restraint. Examples of neglect include failing to provide adequate nutrition, clothing, or health care to an individual or failing to provide a safe environment.


Restraint and Seclusion Laws

RSA 126-U is a state law that limits the use of restraint and seclusion of children by schools and by certain providers of residential services and treatment to children. It restricts the use of restraint and seclusion only to emergency situations when no other intervention will prevent the substantial and imminent risk of serious bodily harm to the child or someone else. More information about this law can be found in our Restraint and Seclusion in School brochure.

There are specific rules regarding the use of restraint and seclusion that apply to designated receiving facilities that provide psychiatric treatment to children and adults, such as New Hampshire Hospital. See our Restraint and Seclusion While at the Hospital: What are my rights? brochure.  Medicaid law similarly restricts the use of restraint and seclusion on both adults and children in facilities that accept Medicaid.


How We Can Help

DRC-NH works to end unnecessary restraint and seclusion and the abuse and neglect of all people with disabilities. We have federal authority to monitor and investigate facilities that hold people with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness.

See also: Monitoring and Investigations


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If You Need Help

Contact us if your think your rights have been violated or if you wish to speak with an attorney about a disability-related legal issue.

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