School Pranked into Administering Electric Shocks to Students

We've posted about the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, a controversial "behavioral modification" school that uses electric shock in attempt to change children's behaviors. (Photo: The cover story of a Sept 2007 Mother Jones magazine by Jennifer Gonnerman.)

The school is back in the news now, after a prank call from a former student posing as a supervisor duped officials at the school into delivering dozens of electrical shocks to two students:

School staffers contacted state authorities after they realized they had been tricked on Aug. 26 into delivering 77 shocks to one student and 29 shocks to another, according to Cindy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Early Education and Care, which drafted the report. Both students were part of a Rotenberg-run group home in Stoughton for males under age 22. [...]

Ernest Corrigan, a spokesman for the Rotenberg center, said the school contacted law enforcement "within hours" after discovering the prank, and that such an incident has never before happened at the school. Corrigan said they have instituted new safeguards to prevent such occurrences. He also said that while the school regrets the incident, the two male students who received the wrongful shocks did not experience any serious physical harm and did not need medical treatment afterwards.

Seventy-seven shocks? Someone should go to jail for that ...

Links: Boston Globe article | USA Today has the (censored) investigation report [pdf] | More info at USA Today On Deadline


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Very simple. Nerves are like small wires. You dump voltage down them they aren't designed to carry and you do damage period. Any electrical component that receives shocks has a shorter life. Is the body not bio-electrical-mechanical system?

By the way "Pica" as reason to torture? Anyone who eats ice can be diagnosed with that lame duck disordered.

No one should receive electrical shocks unless they can give informed consent. Unable to explain how it works what happens to the body, then you aren't informed sufficiently. No one truly moral and ethical would decide to inflict pain on another for their own good. Any person who believes torture is acceptable need to be inflicted with their cure until they learn.
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@Matthew L. Israel:

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this issue. I read your Response to Blog summary and found this passage:

The skin shock procedure involves administering a two-second shock(15mA or 45mA) to the surface of the skin of, typically, an arm or leg.The shock feels like a hard pinch. It has no side effects other than a very occasional reddening or discoloration of the skin that clears up in a few minutes or at most a few days. It is administered, in the average case, only once per week. With the help of this treatment, the behaviors of many students improve to a point where they no longer need the treatment. There are no negative side effects and many positive ones as has been found in a paper that has recently been accepted for publication, written by Wietske van Oorsouw incollaboration with JRC clinicians entitled, “Side Effects of Contingent
Shock Treatment.” [See
http://www.judgerc.org/SideEffectsContingent.pdf.]


So how did it go from 1 shock a week to 77 shocks in a three hour period?

The investigation by Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care found there was first degree burn due to the shock device. When the two students complained of pain from the shocks and requested medical help, they weren't seen by the nurse until the following day.

The investigation was pretty damning:

The investigation has found sufficient evidence to conclude that staff ... was physically abusive towards two residents placed in the program. ... allegation of physical abuse of the residents ... and ... by staff .... It is the judgment of the Department that staff ... had engaged in conduct which bears adversely upon his ability to provide for the safety and well being of a child.

The investigation found sufficient evidence to conclude that the Stoughton House staff were neglectful in the care of residents ... and .... The program staff failed to protect the health and safety of the identified residents. ... the allegation of neglect of the residents by all staff. It is the judgment of the Department that the staff had engaged in conduct which bears adversely upon their inability to provide for the safety and well being of a child.
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double post sorry hit the submit on accident.

This is almost as bad as what happened to my friend.
she basicly was almost raped infront of a couple of her (sarcasm)"friends"(sarcasm over. and the principal didnt even report it. her mom told her that the principal (whom im considering giving the name i will if somebody asks)isnt to be taken seriously and shouldnt handle any of her school stuff. she said to me that after that she didnt think she would be friends with any guys until she met me.
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Some of this children are self-harming, but most of these children are not. They are placed in this school because they are autistic, or have other issues, and the parents just do not want them around. The idea is that they can be forced by abusive treatment to behave "normally" and made to fit in.

Not one single child has ever been cured. Not one. The school is evil. It should be shut down, but only after every parent and employee has undergone treatment there. Then every one of those parents and employees should go to jail.

If a parent did that kind of thing directly to their child they would go to jail. However, society seems to believe that it is okay to abuse or kill a child that isn't normal. Parents who abuse and/or kill their disabled children are often given light sentences or even not prosecuted. This is often the same treatment given to care givers of the disabled.

In other words, if you're different, you're not only worthless, but you're also less than an animal.
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