Four years ago, a troubled seventeen year old girl died after being pinned face down to the floor by her caretakers in home for troubled kids. This started a firestorm of outrage and ended up revealing to unknowing parents that Ohio schools had what are called "seclusion rooms". They are used to contain kids who are "out of control" and pose "a physical threat" at school. Using this definition it may seem that these rooms serve a purpose to protect everyone until further action can be determined. However the Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio collaborated recently to investigate with Ohio Public Radio and they found that these seclusion rooms are being used without regulation all over the state. And further, as reported in The Columbus Dispatch,
"No law governs seclusion rooms, and the Ohio Department of Education has provided little guidance and virtually no oversight to schools. The department has no idea which districts have seclusion rooms because it has not asked. It does not know how often vulnerable children are locked alone in rooms and does not intend to tell schools to stop doing it.
Sometimes, even parents don't know when it happens to their children.
"They never mentioned seclusion rooms. I don't think they ever wanted anyone to know they existed," said Rosemary Crum, whose son is an adult now and graduated from Pickerington schools. She learned of her son's seclusion when another mother told her.
"I worry that there are other kids it's happening to, too," Crum said.
School districts say that seclusion already is a last-resort safety measure. But districts' own records show that many isolate special-needs students for being difficult, disruptive or noncompliant"
This horrifies me. My son is considered "special needs" and the idea that he could be locked away in a glorified closet for having a meltdown, which is common with sensory kids, scares the crap out of me. It would scar him terribly to be isolated and I can only imagine the scars it has left on the children punished this way. The state tells parents that their kids with special needs will be educated by teachers and staff who are equipped to handle their needs and behaviors. In fact, it's the law. There is so much evidence that these seclusion rooms are harmful for kids. And my heart breaks thinking about the fear a disabled child may experience suffering alone in a room not knowing when or who will come and get them. The reality that there is no policy or any regulations in place to oversee this is just wrong.
Have you heard of seclusion rooms before now? How would you handle finding out your child had been isolated?
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