Saturday, October 24, 2009

Canada: Vancouver School Time Out Rooms Criticized

"If we used these as parents, we'd be treated as abusive,' advocate says

[NOTE: And this advocate is absolutely right. If we did this to children in our homes, those children would be removed from our care almost faster than we could blink. But if a school does this, or an institution....well, then, it's in the child's best interests...]

Last Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009 | 7:18 PM PT

Three Vancouver elementary schools are using "safe" or "time out" rooms for children with severe behavioural problems.

The students are sent to the rooms — described by one child advocate as "closets" — when they act out and pose a danger to others.

"The ones in the three schools that are still being used are basically closets," said Barb Laird, a retired teacher and advocate for children with behavioural issues.

"[The rooms] are … five feet by five feet. They are closets, like a broom closet," she said.

Laird said she believed "time out" rooms were a thing of the past but she discovered they are still in use as places where some misbehaving students are sent, alone.

The Vancouver School Board is looking into the practice.

Children should be getting help

"It certainly raises concerns for me," board chair Patti Bacchus told CBC News.

"But we have a really difficult situation here. We do have a very small percentage of students with extreme behavioural issues."

Laird said she is only aware of one school, Alderwood, which has a large room where stressed-out students can go to relax.

She said the children should be getting help learning to regulate their anxiety and anger.

Bacchus said the rooms are used only as a last resort, but Laird said locking children in virtual closets is unacceptable.

"If you or I, as parents, put our kids in a closet, the ministry [of Children and Family] would be in our house so quickly taking those kids away from us. We would be treated as abusive parents," said Laird.

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