New Ze­a­land to out­law school se­clu­si­on rooms

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

NEW ZE­A­LAND - Se­clu­si­on will be out­la­wed fol­lo­wing wor­rying ca­ses whe­re tea­chers lock­ed au­tis­tic child­ren in rooms alo­ne for hours at a ti­me. Edu­ca­ti­on Mi­nis­ter He­kia Pa­ra­ta said she plan­ned to ma­ke the use of se­clu­si­on in schools il­legal and re­lea­se guid­an­ce, de­vel­o­ped by an ad­vi­so­ry group, so schools had a clear un­der­stan­ding of how to deal with chal­len­ging be­ha­vi­our. The ma­jo­ri­ty of schools had good prac­ti­ces in pla­ce for ma­na­ging chal­len­ging be­ha­vi­our of a small num­ber of stu­dents in a sa­fe and in­clu­si­ve way, Pa­ra­ta said, ad­ding that de­a­ling with this be­ha­vi­our can be ‘very dif­fi­cult’. But in to­day’s world the­re is no si­tu­a­ti­on whe­re it is ac­cep­ta­ble for se­clu­si­on to be used in schools or ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­ti­on ser­vi­ces, so I want to ma­ke that clear in the law.” The pro­po­sed chan­ges, which will go through the se­lect com­mit­tee pro­cess and be ad­ded to the Edu­ca­ti­on (Up­da­te) Amend­ment Bill, would pro­hi­bit se­clu­si­on in schools and ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­ti­on (ECE) ser­vi­ces. The new law would work in a si­mi­lar way to the cur­rent law that pro­hi­bits cor­po­ral pu­nish­ment, Pa­ra­ta said. The chan­ges co­me af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­ti­ons found the rooms we­re used in two pri­ma­ry schools to res­train child­ren with au­tism. In­ves­ti­ga­ti­ons found two au­tis­tic boys, aged 6 and 11, we­re lock­ed in a small, dark room at Wel­ling­ton’s Mi­ra­mar Cen­tral School on se­pa­ra­te oc­ca­si­ons. Se­clu­si­on is de­fi­ned as the prac­ti­ce of a stu­dent being in­vo­lun­ta­ri­ly pla­ced alo­ne in a room at any ti­me or for any du­ra­ti­on, from which they can­not freely exit or be­lie­ve they can­not freely exit. Se­clu­si­on in the form of so­li­ta­ry con­fi­ne­ment is al­rea­dy pro­hi­bi­ted under ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­ti­on (ECE) re­gu­la­ti­ons. The pro­po­sed le­gis­la­ti­on will in­clu­de ECE ser­vi­ces to en­su­re con­sis­ten­cy across the edu­ca­ti­on sec­tor. On Thurs­day, the Mi­ni­stry of Edu­ca­ti­on sent a let­ter to schools to ma­ke it clear that no schools should be using se­clu­si­on. The­re we­re sig­ni­fi­cant phy­si­cal and psy­cho­lo­gi­cal risks in pla­cing a child alo­ne in a room from which they can­not freely exit, she said. It al­so pre­sen­ted he­alth and sa­fe­ty risks in the event of an emer­g­en­cy such as a fire. The Mi­ni­stry of Edu­ca­ti­on would al­so con­duct a sur­vey to find out how ma­ny schools ha­ve been using se­clu­si­on.


Edu­ca­ti­on Mi­nis­ter He­kia Pa­ra­ta wants to in­tro­du­ce a law ear­ly next year to ban the use of the se­clu­si­on rooms in schools. (Photo: ti­ri­mo­a­na)

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