“Scream Rooms” is a method of punishment used in several states in both public and private schools. This is a method of discipline upon which children are isolated, locked in nothing short of a cell without the supervision of an adult. Scream Rooms are used as a form of discipline for misbehaving in school. FOX News Channel’s; America’s News HQ called upon my expertise as a Family Therapist, and parenting expert to weigh in on this. News anchor Alisyn Camerota interviewed me for my insights on 2/27/14 where I shared my passionate disapproval of Scream Rooms. If you missed this LIVE interview, below you will find my blog article where I share with you my readers, 5 key points as to why I strongly believe that there is no place for Scream Rooms in our educational school system here in America!
Scream Rooms is the practice upon which a child is secluded in a room without the supervision of an adult. Restraint procedures are often used to physically limit the movement of a child. This is unnacceptable to me as a parent, as a therapist, as a human. This is barbaric! Lunacy I say! Horrific!
- Traumatic/Abusive: Scream rooms are mentally, emotionally, and psychologically traumatic and abusive. And far too often physically abusive.
- What Children Learn: Teachers play a significant role in the emotional development and mental wellness of who children are in the now, and who they develop into as adults. Scream Rooms teach children not to trust. Scream rooms teach children that it is not their behavior that is ‘bad’ that needs to change, rather they receive the message that who they are as an individual is bad and that they are undeserving of time nor attention. Scream rooms infer the child as a person, their identity is bad and that they are not capable of being taught tools for behavioral correction. Scream rooms teach a child that who he/she is as a person is not valued, that he/she is worthless and disposable. A child views themselves through the lens of how others view them. Thus, when labeled as bad, you further become that label.
- Negative Impact: Scream rooms isolate, seclude, punish- nothing short of a jail cell. During my LIVE interview on America’s News HQ, Alisyn Camerota shared that she has 3 children in the public schools and was horrified upon learning about Scream Rooms. She explained that she did not know this was going on. Many parents don’t know this is going on, and schools often do not report to the parents when the Scream Rooms are used. I shared on air that there is no evidence that jail cells for children teach healthy shifts in behavior in children. There is no evidence that solitary confinement is educational and/or therapeutic. Rather I explained that these cells house the negative behavior to grow, to fester and turn into something far worse. A negative impact indeed. If you want to create a child who has mental health issues in childhood and on into adulthood, then Scream Rooms is the method of choice. I explained during this interview that a child who is with-held emotional care (which is what a Scream Room is) will either turn their emotional anguish inward (e.g., depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, PTSD, drugs/alcohol) or outward (e.g., anger management issues, violence, abusive towards others, disconnect in relationships). Scream Rooms are traumatic, and will induce trauma reactive response for some of the children who enter the room. Even for some of those children who do not misbehave, and rather are observers will experience traumatic response like reactions. Specifically, observing your peers being forced against their will into an isolated chamber can indeed be traumatic.
- Problem Exacerbation: The philosophy of Scream Rooms must be stomped on and disposed of, for there is no good that can come from it, only horrific bad. Not mild bad, not moderate, rather severe bad. We are exacerbating the problem. Bullying the child. You don’t teach behavior correction by doing something hurtful! Are we ignorant and un-informed of child developmental needs? Are we animals? We are one or the other if we believe in Scream Rooms as an option. Punishment through the blend of power, control, humiliation and isolation is neither educational nor therapeutic and does not induce positive healthy long term behavior shifts.
- How Children Make Healthy Behavior Shifts: My entire parenting philosophy that I have provided a parenting education workshop nationally for years for parents and educators, along with my clientele in my practice based in Sharon, Massachusetts, and wrote about in my book: 9 Key Techniques for Raising Respectful Children Who Make Responsible Choices – is the complete opposite to the Scream Room philosophy. Scream Rooms are the polar opposite philosophically for what works to develop mentally healthy children who develop into respectful, responsible, compassionate humans with self worth. There is no evidence that physically restraining children or placing them in isolation, seclusion, and unsupervised cell-like rooms has an educational nor therapeutic benefit. There is no evidence that this practice will lead to positive behavior. Rather, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been cited time and time again as a reliable method to help even the most extreme cases of behavioral problems to make healthy behavioral shifts long term. Techniques such as: 1) Being respectful and treating children as valued – leads them to be respectful, 2) hearing their voice, and 3) understanding how their behavior makes sense in the context of which it is in, even when it seems to make no sense- are just but 3 of the philosophical views and techniques that work. Helping children to understand their thoughts and behaviors and help them to identify healthy behavioral alternatives and tools to use is the way to go. So, what about a Therapeutic Room? A room where there is a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a Solution Focused base? This way the child can gain an understanding of their thoughts, make positive shifts in thoughts, and gain behavioral tools and strategies that are acceptable. In this way the child develops into a child and adult who is a healthy functioning member of society. Rather than a disposable one.