The Judge Rotenberg Center, located outside of Boston, has been under the media’s fire since their methods of reprehension for students were revealed. The school uses aversives to correct the behavior of children who are acting out. What kind of aversives do they use? Skin shock treatment.
The JRC serves 250 students, from ages 3 to adulthood. All students suffer from various emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral problems. Children with autism are part of the group that is serviced at the school.
The school says that skin shock treatments are not administered unless a court and student’s parents have approved. Although, now, both Mental Disability Rights International and the United Nations have fulminated against the school and their choice of aversives.
Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, had this to say: “To be frank, I was shocked when I was reading the report. What I did, on the 11th of May, was to send an urgent appeal to the U.S. government asking them to investigate.”
The JRC and the doctor who runs this, Matthew Israel, aren’t budging on their position that their aversive therapy is safe and nowhere near torture. Israel said: “The real torture, is what these children are subjected to if they don’t have this program. They’re drugged up to the gills with drugs that cause them to be so sedated that they essentially sleep all day.”
Israel defends that the therapy is used on a case by case basis, and it’s in the best interest of children who are in severe danger to themselves. The children wear the device in the form of a backpack or fanny pack, and the staff members are able to control when to send a shock to the child. While Israel says that the treatment does not have side effects and is used to protect the child from being violent towards themselves and others, he does not deny that it causes pain.