31 May 2013

Stop Hurting Kids: Campaign to End Restraint and Seclusion

Last night, I had the honor of attending the live kick-off film screening for the new Stop Hurting Kids campaign against restraint and seclusion here in Washington, DC. The film screening was held at the National Youth Transitions Center, and the producer, Dan Habib (who is also responsible for the films Including Samuel and Who Cares About Kelsey?), was there to speak on the importance of opening a dialogue on abuse in educational settings. Three of the folks featured in the newest film, Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories, also gave remarks that emphasized moving away from pity and toward actionable anger. Those people were Helena Stephenson, a woman with Asperger's syndrome and parent of an autistic son, and Wil and Maren Beaudoin, whose son Andre was a victim of repeated restraints.

Image description: The photo is centered on a single white woman with straight black hair falling just above her busts. She appears to be in her twenties and is speaking, with a microphone mounted on a podium in front of her. She is wearing a short sleeved button-down shirt open to reveal a black cami, and a silver heart-shaped pendant. Behind her is a brick wall. 
(The "Stop Hurting Kids" Facebook page captioned this photo as follows: "Helena Stephenson talks about the importance of advocacy, and action, and how she's inspired to ensure her child never feels unsafe in school the way she did.")

This campaign was launched on the heels of the re-filing of Representative George Miller (D-California)'s bill against restraint and seclusion (Keeping All Students Safe Act) after two failed attempts in previous sessions. (I was also at the hearing last summer on SB-2020 before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.) The video seeks to highlight the voices of survivors and parents of survivors in exposing the traumatic consequences of restraint and seclusion, and offers deeply troubling, intensely personal reflections on the matter. You can watch the film in its entirety on the website, and it is captioned there. Unfortunately, I don't have a complete transcript available in text-form at this time.


Image description: It is a room with white marble walls and silver metal elevators (two of them) and then what appears to be a white stone statue mounted on a silver metal panel in the middle of the marble walls. There is a large group of people sitting in the room. In the front row, facing their left and the viewer's right, are a middle-aged white woman with brown hair wearing a bright light blue shirt and sweater and white pants; an older white woman with short white hair wearing a black and speckled dress and a black elbow-length sweater; and a young Asian woman with short black hair and glasses wearing a pink and purple plaid collared shirt and brown hair, holding a microphone and speaking into it. The other people, who are mostly white and Black, are looking toward her.
(The "Stop Hurting Kids" Facebook page captioned this photo as follows: "Lydia Brown, advocate and Georgetown student, comments [on] restraint and seclusion advocacy during the post-film discussion session.")

Disabled students, students of color, and other marginalized students are disproportionately likely to be subjected to restraint and seclusion. In 2009, the U.S. Government and Accountability Office issued a report detailing numerous instances of deaths and serious injuries resulting from restraint and seclusion. These are also commonplace practices in institutions like the Judge Rotenberg Center, where they are likely to be coupled with aversive procedures as well.

I actually need to continue (and finish) writing something on a related topic, so this somewhat incoherent and non-linear post is going to end here, but definitely check out the campaign, and send emails or letters or make calls to your Senators and Representatives to urge them to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act!


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