Lawmakers in Washington are calling for legislation that would end the use of padded “scream rooms” to punish students who misbehave – a practice that has been called barbaric and abusive and one that is still being used in several states across the country in both public and private schools.
Screaming rooms, also known as seclusion rooms have been around for a long time. Unfortunately, children who have spent a lot of time in them tend to have subsequent problems in the mental health arena, including PTSD. And now I am seeing a major increase in chemical restraints in the form of the antipsychotics, such as risperidone and Zyprexa. These are not being found to be effective for most children because they don’t address the "whys" of their meltdowns, which has been the same problem found with the seclusion rooms. Of course you can hear of a student here or there who only needed one time in the room to "straighten up", but that is not the norm.
Chemical or physical restraints and seclusion rooms don’t address what is causing such distress in our children. Too many of them are children with neurodevelopmental disorders who struggle to process the world around them. Because of this they get overwhelmed periodically and for that they get punished, not helped. It is the same response I received as a child when I would be upset and crying only to hear "If you are going to cry, I will give you a reason to cry.".
We have to look to neuroscience and child development to develop respectful means of helping these children feel less stressed, feel more like their worlds make sense, and that they are indeed loved, accepted, and respected.
What do you think?
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