Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Imagine Torture, and Kids ...and Smiling

Imagine a child wearing a backpack that held ten pounds of electrical equipment. The child - retarded, autistic, or behaviorally crippled - wears this backpack out of which five wires emerge and attach, as electrodes, to the legs, arms, and torso of this boy. He has someone to shadow or watch a recording of him 24 hours a day; they always carry a button, or "sled." If he does something as innocuous as swearing or nagging and up to biting or clawing, he gets a two-second long jolt of electricity.

Now read this article from Mother Jones: School of Shock. This is not an exercise in imagination.

This is Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (site's a whitewash, but note the slide show - every kid with a backpack is carrying their own electro-shock cross), located in Canton, Massachusetts. Dr. Matt Israel pioneered the "therapy," the creation of the Graduated Electronic Decelerator or GED (after noting spatula spanks, finger pinches, muscle squeezes, and whiffs of ammonia could be inconsistant), and the legacy of the school. The parents of the most severe cases rally behind him to keep the school alive. The school district or state pick up the $220,000 tab for each kid. Half of the 234 kids are wired for zapping and deaths have resulted in the "care" of the facility. Warning: this is an angering "curl up and cry" story.

So what can we do about it?


andrea said...

Ricky, you are quite correct about the site being a "whitewash" -- all the fancy decor and whatnot are merely distractors from what's really going on.

I too have blogged about the JRC, with analyses on how punishment is a poor teaching tool The Crime of Punishment, and Being Unruly, and how the site's testimonial letters are hardly good "proof" as to the benefit of the program: The Plural of Testimonials is Not ____".

Comments by blog visitors (including a former resident and a job applicant) have also been very illuminating.

The whole scene is disturbing on a number of levels. I'm at a loss as to what can effectively be done about it.

Matthew L. Israel said...

An extensive response to Ms. Gonnerman's article can be found here: http://www.judgerc.org/ResponsetoGonnermanArticle.pdf

Matthew L. Israel,Ph.D.
Executive Director
Judge Rotenberg Educational Center