15 Oct 2016

Ministry looking into another seclusion room - Commissioner

8:26 am on 15 October 2016

The Disability Rights Commissioner is pleased the Ombudsman will investigate the use of seclusion rooms in schools.

A report released yesterday by the Ministry of Education confirmed Miramar Central School in Wellington used a small, dark room to confine some children, including some with autism, for short periods of time.

It said the seclusion room at Miramar Central was being used for timeout for children in response to disruption, disobedience and violence, such as hitting, biting, kicking or choking.

The entrance to the discipline room at Miramar Central School.

The seclusion room at Miramar Central School was used to confine some children for short periods of time. Photo: Supplied

The Chief Ombudsman is to investigate the extent of the practice throughout the country, along with any related actions of government agencies.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson said he understood the Ministry had been looking into the use of a seclusion room at at least one another school.

He said the practice needed to stop.

"This sort of thing may be occurring in other schools - it has to stop now. It is unacceptable, " he said.

Meanwhile, the disability advocacy group IHC said the use of seclusion rooms showed some schools may lack the support they need to properly deal with difficult behaviour.

IHC director of advocacy Trish Grant said the practice belonged in the "dark ages" and schools should immediately stop it.

However, he said all the blame couldn't be put on the school.

"These are situations that are challenging for families and for schools, and they don't feel like they are getting the right resources to do the job well ... well supported in managing this situation, and they've resorted to this seclusion room because they didn't know what else to do," she said.

But she said there needed to be increased accountability.

"How should schools be held accountable, how should the system be held accountable in terms of what's happening to those individual children and the families who are just devastated by what's happened."

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