Dylan Thorne: Seclusion rooms need to be banned

By Dylan Thorne

2 comments
Some forms of discipline are no longer acceptable. Photo / Getty Images
Some forms of discipline are no longer acceptable. Photo / Getty Images

Our sense of what is socially acceptable changes over time.

I know this because not so long ago it was okay to smoke in bars and restaurants.

Non smokers were expected to put up with all the second-hand smoke and harmful chemicals as one of the downsides of going out for the evening.

It seems almost unbelievable now.

There's usually a backlash when society decides it has moved on and new legislation is introduced that changes the lay of the land.

Such was the case the amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act which banned smoking in all indoor public workplaces and hospitality venues.

I doubt, though, many will question Education Minister Hekia Parata's proposal to make the use of seclusion rooms illegal.

There's something disturbing about an 11-year-old autistic child being locked in a cupboard-like "cell" as punishment, as was the case at one Wellington school.

According to a report in The New Zealand Herald last week the child was discovered crying out "I'll be good, I'll be good" from the locked room during lunch time.

An investigation sparked by his mother's complaint, made in July this year, found the boy had been placed in the room 13 times in the space of just nine days.

It later emerged children as young as 6 had also been put in the room at times.

I'm not sure what a child so young in years could possibly do to warrant such treatment - it seems barbaric.

Surely, the fact the autistic child was placed in the seclusion room so many times over such a short space of time, was a clear sign that such treatment was not working and was probably counterproductive.

Ms Parata, in my view, hit the nail on the head when she described the practice as being acceptable in the 80s and 90s, but no longer is.

"I was horrified about the situation. I was horrified they were locked in from outside and that there was a 6-year-old involved, " she said.

She described the practice as intolerable, which it certainly is.

The sooner it ends the better.

- Northern Advocate

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