BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — Local psychologists are weighing in on Silver Creek School’s controversial “de-escalation room” and whether these types of spaces help students calm down.

Pamela Schuetze, a psychology professor at Buffalo State specializing in early childhood development, said these areas should be safe and comforting.

Schuetze has more than two decades in her field and says good examples of de-escalation rooms have things like weighted stuff-animals or sensory blocking headphones.

News 4 did a story back in 2019 on Buffalo Public School 61’s relaxation room, used to help lower suspension rates at the school. In the room, they have stuffed animals, painted walls and bean-bag chairs.

“If it really is that they’re becoming overwhelmed, those types of material and strategies are more effective,” Schuetze said.

Silver Creek School’s de-escalation room became controversial after parents claimed their kids were being locked inside. School Superintendent Todd Crandall has said these claims are false.

Local psychologists say it’s important that schools are mindful of how these spaces look and feel for the student.

“It can be challenging because situations can escalate fairly quickly and if situations are more escalated it can be really difficult to manage those situations,” said Rebecca Vujnovic, the program director of the master’s program in school psychology at UB.

“I don’t even know if it needs to be a room, you know — a space where a child could go to kind of de-escalate with the help of a staff member to calm down,” Schuetze said. “I think that’s really really important so it should be — the comfort of a child should always be kept in mind.”

Not all school districts utilize this method for students. News 4 learned that Niagara Falls, Depew and Frontier School Districts do not use time out or de-escalation rooms.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.