The Kids We Lose
October 4, 2019 @ 5:30 PM – 7:15 PM
In 2015, 24-year-old Dylan Grubbs was sentenced to five years in jail. He accidentally shot his fiancée, the mother of his two children. This was his tragic, final step on the “school to prison” pipeline—an all too familiar journey that can start for our youngest kids with a single, explosive tantrum.
The Kids We Lose is an unflinching exposé of how some of the most vulnerable, misunderstood kids are treated in our society. Kids with social, emotional and behavioral challenges, desperate for help, lash out against caregivers and teachers only to be punished, restrained and secluded, and ultimately sent to jail. The truth is that these kids want to be good, to belong, to succeed. They just don’t have the skills.
In the heat of ‘crisis management,’ these explosive kids often receive punitive, brutal, unenlightened treatment. Poor kids, African American kids, and kids with disabilities are far more likely to experience it than their peers. There is no federal legislation and only a patchwork of state laws regulating crisis management in schools. As a result, restraint and seclusion are misapplied on millions of American schoolchildren each year, sometimes with deadly consequence. To date, 20 children have died. It is a quiet, nationwide epidemic playing out in the shadows of our own neighborhood schools.
Dylan’s life story acts as the spine of the film. As he takes us through critical chapters in his troubled life, we cut away to other stories and characters from around the country to illustrate, in real time, the challenges and consequences of being a ‘problem’ kid or adolescent. We see how the kids charge up against a brick wall of discipline and how it ultimately knocks them over. We also hear from caregivers and teachers who struggle to do right by these kids with scant resources and little knowledge about how to reach them. Civil Rights advocates, school administrators and experts in psychology, education and the juvenile justice system weigh in, offering context and tactics on how to stop the crisis before it is too late.
There are rays of hope. For some, the paradigm is shifting and adults are working to help kids learn skills and solve problems—before they erupt. Because traumatized, disenfranchised, marginalized, alienated kids operate in fight or flight mode and act up more. Then when criminal charges are brought as a result of their behavior at school, they find themselves on a conveyor belt leading straight to a prison cell.
These are the kids we lose.
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