Colorado School Confines 8-Year-Old Girl to Jail-Like Room for Detention

After an 8-year-old student was placed in a “cell-like” room for detention, her mother claims that the elementary school violated the girl’s constitutional rights.

Alegra, who attended school in Castle Rock, Colorado, found herself in disciplinary trouble; according to Rock Ridge Elementary staff, she had threatened another student.

Alegra’s mother, Connie Ramstad, says the girl had finally decided to stand up for herself against another student who had regularly bullied her throughout the school year. Regardless, Alegra was given detention for her behavior.

Unlike in most schools, Alegra was not placed in a classroom with an adult to supervise her detention time. Instead, staff chose to place her in a very small “cell-like” room for hours by herself.

According to Ramstad, Alegra was made to sit in what was essentially a “jail cell” that was roughly “2 feet by 4 feet.”

By comparison, prison cells used for solitary confinement –  which typically hold the most dangerous and violent inmates — tend to measure around 6 feet by 8 feet.

To subject an 8-year-child to this standard is not only indicative of staff laziness, but it’s also simply cruel. Unsurprisingly, when Alegra’s mother came to the school, she found her daughter in the small room crying and distraught.

Understandably outraged, Ramstad documented the scene with photographs and immediately took her daughter home. She has since decided that Alegra will not be returning to Rock Ridge Elementary School.

Ramstad’s lawyer believes this situation could have been easily avoided if the school had opted to contact her before putting Alegra in detention.

Alegra’s mother says the confinement appears to have taken a serious toll on her daughter, who has been ill for several days following the incident. And she worries about potential long-term effects on Alegra.

Psychological studies on adult prison inmates subjected to solitary confinement have found that such punishment can create profound and deeply negative mental health problems, ranging from anxiety to paranoia and depression. It seems likely that these effects would only be compounded for a young child , even if it was for a relatively short period.

Ramstad is also troubled that the school took this course of action to address bullying. She says Alegra’s cousin was routinely bullied and took her own life at the age of 13.

Given how Alegra was treated by the staff at Rock Ridge Elementary School, it is little surprise that her bullying persisted — and that perhaps she did not feel comfortable asking an adult at the school for help.

In a sense, Alegra herself was bullied by her school’s staff through this bizarre form of detention. Sadly, harsh punishment at school remains all too frequent.

One high-profile incident in Kentucky involved an eight-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl being handcuffed. Despite their misbehavior, a judge ruled that the children’s constitutional rights had been violated by this overreaction.

And last week, a 9-year-old autistic boy was handcuffed in Indiana. Though accounts differ, the student’s father says his son was defending himself against a bully.

Given that these children are still maturing, physically and emotionally, such incidents can have profound consequences.

These are merely a small sample of recent punishments against young children that were likely unnecessary. The primary education years are about more than teaching the basics of grammar and math — they also provide a crucial socializing period that school staff must learn to handle with care.

Photo Credit: Matthew Henry/Unsplash

58 comments

silja s
silja s27 days ago

please tell me who is in charge ... miss trunchbull
oh my goodness that poor child
completely aghast with the brutality

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Jen S
Jen Sabout a month ago

This represents child abuse and an incompetent staff. I would not allow a child to attend this school; there are far better ways to address the issue of bullying, which should have been done long before this little girl was moved to defend herself.

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Bobby M
Bobby Mabout a month ago

The mother should pursue criminal charges.This is child abuse.

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David C
David Cabout a month ago

good for her mom for moving her out of this school

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Stephanie s
Stephanie sabout a month ago

That's just wrong. I'd place my child at a different school.

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA Rabout a month ago

???!
well said, Freya

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Marija M
Marija Mabout a month ago

Freya, you are right.

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Angelika K
Angelika Kempterabout a month ago

-OMG!-

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Rose R
Rose Rabout a month ago

Bet she'll behave from now on.

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Clare O
Clare O'Bearaabout a month ago

Too small for a broom cupboard. Who has a room that size?

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