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April 2, 2004

Boy-in-box punishment lambasted

From: Calgary Sun, Canada - Apr 2, 2004


Putting a teenage boy with Down syndrome in a cardboard box as punishment has sparked outrage from handicapped advocates in Calgary. "It was a shock to think something like this could happen," Elizabeth Dolman, the Calgary-based national executive director of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, said yesterday.

Betty Shawchuk said she recently visited her 16-year-old son Adam's special-education class at St. Helena junior high school, 320 64 Ave. N.W., only to see a teacher's aide adjusting a cardboard box around his desk because, as she was told, he was being unco-operative in class.

The parents vowed to keep Adam from class until Catholic school board officials promise the box won't be used again.

Dolman added she's hoping this won't be swept under the rug.

"This kind of act shouldn't be treated lightly," Dolman said, adding she's no fan of the segregated special education program she says creates a double standard for discipline.

Parents of other Down syndrome kids are worried this sort of thing may be happening to their children, too, said PREP Program executive director Barbara Tien.

PREP, located at 2004 12 Ave. N.W., helps children with Down syndrome integrate into society.

"It's scary for the parents to hear this, but they're also very proud of the Shawchuks for their courage in speaking up -- because what will hopefully come of this is a review of policies," Tien said.

Calgary Catholic School District officials said yesterday the investigation into the incident has now been concluded and the board will be releasing further details today.

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