Teaching tool or restraining device?
December 13, 2006
sox are meant as a therapeutic device for kids to explore their
space. A therapy okayed by the Pinellas County School District to
calm kids is being questioned by parents.
It's called a body sock, but some
parents call it a restraining device.
The district said body sox are good
teaching tools. The family said it's a restraining device used to
discipline their son.
Body sox are designed to help kids
explore their three-dimensional space, according to web sites about
"I don't like it at all," said
Patrick Holt, the boy's father. "I don't think it should be used on
Calming device or restraining
Watch and learn more about the body
Holt felt that way after learning a
Pre-K teacher at Pinellas Central Elementary put his 4-year-old son
in a body sock Friday.
"My wife saw my son try to open up
the body sock and the teacher's aide went ahead and had him put it
back up," Holt said.
The Holts wondered what was going
on, especially since they said their son was the only student in a
body sock. Bay News 9 was shown their son's journal, which the
teacher records daily.
Patrick Holt said his 4-year-old son was crying when put in the
device. She wrote he was having a good day. But after the parents
complained she wrote, "In reference to the body sock; it was not
used for disciplinary reasons. It is used as a tool for calming
But then she added, "The verbal
warnings given to [the boy] prior to its use were not working. If I
wanted to 'discipline' him he would've been in time-out ."
"You were giving verbal warnings
because you were doing something prior to its use of putting [his
son] in it," Holt said. "So, it was kind of, it seems like the body
sock is used for disciplinary reasons."
The school board won't discuss the
incident because there's an open investigation. But it did confirm
body sox are approved for use and aren't considered restraining
"It has been used in some of our
exceptional student educational classrooms as a very calming
therapeutic and well received type of strategy to calm students
down," school board Director of Communications Andrea Zahn said.
But the Holts said it was anything
but calming for their son.
"He was crying very, very hard,"
Holt said. "Which also causes his asthma to kick in and sometimes he
gets sick and everything like that."
The family said the principal
admitted the therapy did not work.
board spokesperson Andrea Zahn said body sox have been used as an
effective calming device for children. "They did apologize, said it
was wrong," Holt said. "The only thing that we wanted from them was
to send a letter out to let them know what might be going on to
Holt said the school was not
willing to send that letter home. That's when he contacted Bay News
Holt also said he plans to send his
son to another school.
The Holts aren't alone in their
criticism of how the body sock was used. According to our Health
Team 9 psychologist, Dr. Steve O'Brien, the body sock should not be
used to calm unruly children.
"It's probably a questionable
practice to use something like the body sock that is basically
designed for creativity and for visual spacial awareness, to use it
in a way to try and calm children down," O'Brien said.
But the Executive Director of the
Teachers Association, Jade Moore, who's in charge of looking out for
teachers, said they should be careful when using body sox in the
classroom until the school board develops better techniques and
Click here to e-mail Josh
Rojas, the TV reporter on this story.