The Kids We Lose

Film By the Balance and Lone Wolf Media

Developed and executive produced by Dr. Ross Greene

1 hr, 26 minutes

Today’s school systems are challenged in handling children’s extreme behaviors, school shootings and poor outcomes for kids with special needs and mental disabilities. The new film “The Kids We Lose” looks closely at the way schools are addressing the troubling behavior of some children, many times with restraint, seclusion and expulsion for children as young as 5.

The film opens with the story of Dylan, an adult whose unruly behavior in school ultimately led him to be expelled multiple times and eventually moved to an alternative school. Dylan ended up moving out of his family’s home at age 15, aging out of a youth center at age 18 and was eventually incarcerated.

“The Kids We Lose” also highlights the stories of several other children, many of them with disabilities, and how they struggle in the school system. They are restrained, put into isolation and expelled. With that as the backdrop, the film explores the way schools with punitive environments make it difficult for children who have learning disabilities and behavioral problems to actually learn.

The stage is then set for a greater discussion about the school-to-prison pipeline and how punitive responses to children who are struggling ultimately help to funnel kids into that pipeline. This funnel also intersects with race, poverty and disabilities.

Importantly, the film also highlights the economic factors of what it costs to educate a child in a regular classroom and how those expenses increase with each progressive level of education (adding paraprofessional supports, alternative schools, residential treatment) and then eventually the price tag for incarceration.

Viewers may find it disturbing to watch how children are restrained and moved to seclusion to address their behavioral issues. But the film is an eye-opening look at how some of the most troubled children are being treated in school. Watching children with special needs like autism suffer in these environments is heartbreaking.

Foster families will most likely relate to the challenges the children in their care have faced over the years. “The Kids We Lose” definitely serves as a call to action to change the way children with trauma and challenges are treated so that they don’t ultimately end up becoming the next generation of prison inmates.

— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel

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