School Climate & Safety

Campaign Against Restraint and Seclusion Launches With New Film

By Christina A. Samuels — May 30, 2013 1 min read
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New Hampshire-based filmmaker Dan Habib, whose first documentary, “Including Samuel,” chronicled the life of his family, which includes a son with cerebral palsy, is back with another film that talks about restraint and seclusion from the perspective of students.

Tonight’s premiere of “Restraint and Seclusion: Hear our Stories” marks the kickoff of the Stop Hurting Kids campaign, an effort by a coalition of 26 disability advocacy groups to stop the use of restraint and seclusion as a means to curb disruptive behavior.

In addition to “Including Samuel,” Habib also produced a film last year on a student with behavioral difficulties, called “Who Cares About Kelsey?” It was that film where Habib learned about some of the behavior management techniques that can help conflicts from escalating to the point where restraint or seclusion is considered necessary, Habib said in an interview.

Representatives from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and TASH, an advocacy group for people with people with severe disabilities, approached Habib late last year with request that he make a film on the issue from a youth perspective. The documentary features five current and former students and their families talking about their experiences being restrained at school. “It was devastating to film these people talking about what they endured,” Habib said.

Restraint and seclusion practices have been under national scrutiny. My colleague, Nirvi Shah, wrote last year about the first-ever Senate hearing on the topic, which also outlined alternatives to the practice. The Stop Hurting Kids campaign is supporting legislation that would prohibit restraint or seclusion unless it is a last resort to prevent an immediate threat to the student or to others.

The campaign plans to host a 5 p.m. live stream of the movie and a discussion panel that will include Habib; Michael Yudin, the acting assistant secretary of the office of special education and rehabilitative services; and Larke Huang, who leads the trauma and justice strategic initiative for SAMHSA. The film will be permanently available for viewing on the Stop Hurting Kids website.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.