What you call a seclusion room, I call sick bay number two

The wet liberal lefties have gone into a spin painting secure rooms at schools as prison cells.  Of course, now we have to make those illegal, even though they are needed under certain circumstances.

Palmerston North’s Awatapu College special needs unit, a seclusion room has been used to keep students and staff safe when a violent student has lashed out.

The chair of its Board of Trustees, Jeremy Neild, said for years it had been used by only one student.

“We did have a behaviourally challenging boy that used to get into a rage quite quickly and he would headbutt and kick staff if he got obsessive about something. He was put into that room while the staff called the police.

“That was quite an extreme case and quite rare,” he said.

Mr Neild said the safety of all staff and students was the priority, and if the rooms were outlawed that safety could be compromised.

Oh, then the schools and the Education Minister will just be accused of not providing a safe working environment.   

But Ms Parata told Morning Report that while seclusion rooms used to be acceptable – as did corporal punishment – that was no longer the case.

She said an expert group had worked on guidelines for behaviour management, which provided levels of intervention.

Those included identifying who the challenging students were, talking to their parents about what steps to take at what stage, what the catalyst for the behaviour might be and taking all steps to ensure the child’s safety.

She said school staff could use ‘low sensory spaces’ instead of seclusion rooms.

“Seclusion is defined as being a room, lockable from the outside, into which a child is put involuntarily and cannot remove themselves from.

“A low sensory room … is a safe place, where the children understand that they can take themselves to, or a teacher can send them to, because there is an unacceptable behaviour.”

When we mainstreamed “challenging students”, it was by far a great idea.  People with autism also need to live in the real world, so children growing up with peers that have such problems as well as problem children learning how to function in the real world is a much better approach than locking them all away for the rest of their lives.

But there are always extreme cases where integration simply isn’t the best.  Or, it requires a significant amount of additional resources for management.

Seclusion rooms (prison cells) inside schools just aren’t sexy.  Whereas a “safe space” (yeah, deal with it) just sounds nicer.

In the end, the need to separate a student from other students and staff and keep them in a place and condition for their own safety or for that of other remains a requirement.  Simply popping a different term on the space used isn’t going to change the realities of it.

As for having a lock on the door, or the student being able to leave of their own free will…

By the time room is needed, the student isn’t going want to be cooperative.  That’s the whole point.

Sometimes locking people up for a little while is actually the only practical solution.




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