October 12, 2016

Appalling use of 'prison cell' to punish children in NZ school

International media has responded in shock at the evidence a school in Wellington New Zealand has been using a room akin to a solitary confinement cell in a high-security prison to punish children for bad behaviour. 

nzherald.co.nz reports that...

"Children were repeatedly locked in a darkened, cell-like room at a primary school as punishment for bad behaviour.

"Education officials launched an investigation at Miramar Central School in Wellington after a behaviour therapist found a 11-year-old disabled boy alone and distraught in the cupboard-sized room, with no way to get out.

"The boy, who is autistic with the mental age of a toddler, was one of at least 10 children - mainstream and special needs - put in the "time out" room within the past year, largely without parent knowledge or consent.

"While the use of the room was not illegal, it was "outmoded", the investigation found."

dailymail.co.uk summarised the breaking news as follows:

  • "Autistic boy kept in closet-like 'time out' room at Miramar Primary School
  • "The 11-year old had been put into the room at least 13 times over nine days
  • "His mum said he has night terrors and has removed him from the school
  • "The Ministry of Education launched an investigation following the incident."

"I'm horrified a school would do that"

nzherald.co.nz quotes the mother of one of the children repeatedly sentenced to the punishment:

"I'm horrified a school would do that," she said. "My son is petrified of the dark and so this would have been a truly frightening experience for him."

The Herald reports she said the use of the room was not only cruel, but dangerous, and she believed the school had been dishonest with parents.

"It's their dirty little secret. There's a total lack of transparency," she said.

The school's response

Miramar Central School posted a statement on the homepage of their website on 10th October 2016 stating that:

"In anticipation of new Ministry guidelines, we have stopped using the timeout room and are working with parents of the four students with behavioural needs and the Ministry to work out how to manage behaviour matters whilst keeping students and staff safe."

New guidelines

Just last month we reported that new guidelines will be published by the NZ Ministry of Education detailing how and when teachers can use physical interventions to control students presenting a risk to themselves or others. It is now known that the use of the 'time-out' room by Miramar Central School was a catalyst for this action by the Ministry.


Sources: Miramar Central School  NZHerald  Stuff  PressReader  Headlines News  MailOnline