Schools Accused of Abusing Time-Out Rooms

Experts say seclusion rooms being misused to discipline troubled kids
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2008 8:45 AM CDT
Isabel Loeffler, 12, poses in her home, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. After failing to finish anassignment Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room where she was left alone for 3 hours.    (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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(Newser) – The practice of locking misbehaving children in school "time-out rooms" is troubling a growing number of parents and educators, the AP reports. The rooms—often tiny converted storage spaces—are meant to give kids a place to calm down, but experts say they are being used instead to discipline children with behavior disorders and probably do more harm than good.

"Parents call and say their child's disability has been exacerbated by this," said an education advocate at a disability rights group. One couple noticed a striking deterioration in their autistic daughter's behavior after she started at a new school; an investigation showed that the 8-year-old had been regularly restrained and locked in a time-out room, on one occasion wetting herself after having been confined for 3 hours.