The Current

Should 'Isolation Rooms' be banned in Canadian schools?

If your last memory of being disciplined by a teacher involves standing in the corner, you may be surprised to find some schools use seclusion rooms to restore order. Students may not care for them, but often parents hate them far more. In B.C. there are demands to stop the practice entirely....
If your last memory of being disciplined by a teacher involves standing in the corner, you may be surprised to find some schools use seclusion rooms to restore order. Students may not care for them, but often parents hate them far more. In B.C. there are demands to stop the practice entirely.



Parents are demanding a time out on 'seclusion' rooms at schools

My daughter was mostly kept isolated. They call it a resource room. That's basically where she spent most of her time is she would be taken to that room. I would get notes home from the teacher, you know, Savannah couldn't contain herself today. We had to leave her in the resource room. The resource room in essence was her classroom. You know, all kids should have a chance to participate. And these resource rooms, all they are are segregation rooms.

Savannah was seven when she ran into trouble at her public school in Victoria. She has autism, a mild developmental disability and a seizure disorder. Her mother says the school just couldn't seem to find a way to deal with her.

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Stop Hurting Kids: Restraint and Seclusion in BC Schools - Survey Results & Recommendations -- BC Inclusion/Family Support Institute Report

According to an on-line survey done by Inclusion BC and The Family Support Institute -- advocates for people with developmental disabilities -- Savannah's experience is all to common.

The survey found 200 instances in which children who exhibited unruly behaviour were left alone in a wide variety of so-called isolation rooms.

  • Faith Bodnar is the Executive Director of Inclusion BC. She was in our Vancouver studio.

  • Michael Ewen has a different perspective on the use of these isolation rooms in schools. He is the chair of the Board of Education, School District 40 in New Westminister B.C.

  • Pat Mirenda has been looking closely at so called seclusion or calming rooms . She is a Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia.

We did request an interview with the Education Ministry in B.C. but the Minister was not available this morning.


So, what do you think about the use of seclusion rooms: Cruel? Useful? A vital part of the teacher's tool set in the 21st century classroom? We'd love to hear your thoughts... and experiences, if you're a parent or teacher.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Elizabeth Hoath, Howard Goldenthal and Gord Westmacott.

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