I was shocked to find out today that a youth who I'm working with is being directed to his "privacy wall" when he gets upset. I've worked with him on coping strategies and the school reports they have no time to do one-on-one with him. But they do have time to put up the behaviour wall and bring him to it so that he can sit behind it and think of what he has done. They report he likes it.
I spent all day defending the long term negative side effects of it: no coping skills outside the classroom, no shields anywhere else in the community, the long term effects of not being assigned a co-regulator to help you use tools to cope.
I'm wondering what others think of this.
When I was in high school in Canada, (3 yrs ago) I had seen similar tactics being used: specifically a desk off to the side with what are pretty much wooden blinders on either side. This desk was used for several purposes two of which included: a distraction limiting device for students who have become overwhelmed with their environment, and as a punishment for those who are disruptive ( a G rated solitary confinement if you will).
While I think that isolating a youth is very counterproductive (socio-developmentally) , I can see how the first purpose that I mentioned could be beneficial to the education of a child or youth, specifically one with ADHD, Autism, etc.
I believe that the negative side effects you are bringing to people's attention are very important and are completely relevant. However, it is important that we advocate for the wishes of the child in these situations and not necessarily our own values. I believe the appropriateness of this consequence depends on the underlying reasons for the 'getting upset' of this youth you are mentioning. It is also important to recognize that though our primary goal is to care for a child (advocate, work on coping strategies, build relationship) the goal of school staff is usually simply, to meet 'learning outcomes', and thus our differences must be recognized and respected (ideally by both parties).
I hope this helps, or at least helps spur on some thoughts.
Jacob J Janzen
As CYC practitioners we are often faced with these situations where our children and youth are treated unfairly. We stand in a role that is often not seen as parental but are required to support and advocate for the young people in our care. As a CYC practitioner I always attempt to advocate on behalf of the children as though they were my own. That does not mean that I cross any boundaries or step into a role I should not have, it just means that if we don’t advocate for them – sometimes they do not have anyone. You are right to feel the way that you are and questioning if this is what will serve the youth best in the moment or moving forward. It reveals external control versus internal control and we know this is only sustained as long as the external factor is present. I agree that there is no “privacy wall” so to speak in the community or in other social settings that he might encounter.
I am unsure of the area that you are working within but I know the region that I work within has a Provincial School Code of Conduct. I know this as a good friend of mine recently had a similar situation with her own son. He was being placed in this type of space – he was being victimized and he stood up for himself. This was the consequence. Throughout a long process and meeting with the principal (after attempting to resolve the issue with the teacher first) and taking a copy of the Code of Conduct with her, it has been addressed and resolved. There were a number of areas that were outlined within the code that required policy to be followed. There are appropriate channels for addressing the situation and if the situation is not resolved with the teacher, principal, then it would be appropriate to move along to the school board.
I agree with you. This does not set him up for his future and to be able to cope in other situations. If he likes this, he may be displaying behaviours just to get there so he doesn't have to do his assigned work or expectations. They need to remove that and let you continue doing the amazing work that you have started.
Thanks for all your responses. I see nothing good about these boards. Why not teach kids how to cope regardless of their disabilities?