Quiet Rooms: Illinois schools lead the nation in imprisoning very young, disabled children in isolation chambers

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/19/quiet-rooms.html

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As a lifelong Illinois resident, all I can say is we’re not South Dakota. They’re on meth.

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I have a couple decades experience as the parent of a child on the autism spectrum and I’ve met other such kids and parents and gotten myself educated about it. When a kid like mine is in a meltdown, they are not responsive to instructions. You can’t correct their behavior at that point: you’ve already lost control. If you try to add stress by punishing them, you are going to make the state they are in last longer, and be more traumatic. What you need to do with these kids is keep them out of that state, and teach them strategies that will let them recognize when they are losing control and help them cope or deescalate. You can apply rewards and punishments, but they have to be tied to something the kid can control and applied when they’re in a state in which it is going to have an effect.

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Kids in isolation cells, kids in cages. America sure loves kids!

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I hope is is some new style lava lamp. Those old ones can get hot.

My daughter and I were at an appointment at the hospital once and the usual rooms they used were full. In the corner of the room they put us in was a giant contraption that had fibre optics and a weird tube and pieces of plywood. The person we were there to see was running late. A nurse came in at one point and we asked what it was. She said go ahead plug it in.

It made bubbles in the central column and shone lights through it and the fibre optics. Turns out it helped calm some of the patients so if they had it on and acclimatized to the cool light show it was easier to do procedures without them freaking out.

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Hang on- in what crazy part of the world is the school day ten hours long?!

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The children are our future…

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Sounds a little familiar.

(I suppose this should come with a trigger warning.)

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...Propublica was able to obtain thousands of pages' worth of terrifying logs that record children begging to be released, sobbing uncontrollably, and even self-harming while locked away, as an educator sits outside of the box, calmly noting down each of these cries and injuries, without acting on them.
This entire thing is just sick and twisted.
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We seem to have decided that life begins at conception and ends at the start of the third trimester.

@Purplecat I’m unclear on the ages for that example, but even in 5th grade there were times I’d go in early for band practice, stay late for a club or sport, and have a day that long in total. If that’s what parents plan on, and afaict they aren’t calling them to let them know the situation…

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America, please stop being so weird; you are creeping me out.

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Man I saw a Vice series on a “last chance” school in Chicago. I couldn’t actually finish it with how fucked up it was. We really need to figure out something better for kids with issues. Isolation cells or last chance schools don’t seem to be working…

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Progress in this country is like 20,000 steps forward and 19,999 steps back isn’t it? (may have those numbers reversed, hard to tell)

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On November 20th, 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That’s thirty years ago. It has been ratified by all UN members, except for one.

The United States of America.

What’s wrong with you, America?


Many Americans might not even realize how wrong America’s approach to children’s rights is on the whole. After all, It’s a natural reflex to look to other English-speaking countries for comparison, and they’re not doing too well, either:

According to https://endcorporalpunishment.org/global-progress/, the legal situation of corporal punishment against children looks like this globally:

Plenty of yellowish “Prohibited in all settings”, and getting more. Among rich English-speaking countries, the US is still part of the majority. If people in Colombia or Czechia ask the question “how do they do things in other countries”, things will look different to them.

Things look similar for the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Many US states have none, it’s 10 years of age in England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, 12 in Canada and Ireland. Scotland is raising the limit from 8 years to 12.

Sound OK? Well, the UN recommendation is to not put it below 14 years.

As for locking people in small rooms? That’s not even about the rights of children. It’s about basic human rights.

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In elementary school I had to be on the bus by 7 or so, and it’s plausible that a student is in some sort of after-school program because their parents can’t pick them up until after work, which could easily lead to a 10 hour day.

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Hooray once again for ProPublica!
When I realized how often I was cheering for them, I looked them up, found them to be a 501©3, and have been donating for a couple of years.
Man, does that donation make me feel gooood!

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Stupid text editor decides for me that a C in parentheses means copyright.

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In America we value individuality, except from school children. We lock up, medicate, or otherwise exclude from society any child that doesn’t fit our idealize view of what a perfect American boy or girl is.

I went to public school in the midwest and it was fucking oppressive. And I had no disabilities or homelife challenges.

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I don’t think it’s about figuring anything out. What works is compassion, and giving people the help and resources they need to deal with their various issues. Punishment doesn’t produce well adjusted individuals. Even dog trainers know that much.

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Parents need to speak up and advocate for their kids, or schools get away with shit like this.

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