SHOCK - Prank Call Leads to Kids Getting Electro Shock

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Remnant
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12 Jan 2008, 11:09 am

A nutty idea just came to me, and this is physically dangerous also.

What if the children were given the use of the equipment to shock themselves? Get one thing right, I don't like the idea even when I propose it, but what if? Would this give a person the same or better results, and without the accompanying humiliation and control by others?

My opinion is that outside control actually leads to criminal behavior. The same part of a person's mind that is used in controlling one's own behavior is damaged by outside control, especially the kind that I suffered under, which was generally chaotic and sadistic. There are people who are close to me who still disable me from running my own life. The only thing that I think works is to give a person the tools that he or she needs to run their own life. Maybe the shocker is a legitimate tool when used by the person that the shock is inflicted on.

Of course, there are also dozens of programs available in different self-help books, most of which probably produce the same effect, and most of which a lot of therapists will steer people away from, for fear of interference with their own "program." But I have to tell them that most of their patients could do quite well with a steady earned income and some control over their home life, and that it is not successful treatment to produce patients who are still living with their mothers at the age of 45.



ed
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12 Jan 2008, 11:26 am

OMG...
I just noticed that Google has placed ads for the Judge Rotenberg Center on our site:

Quote:
School for Autistic Kids
Drug Free Behavioral Treatment Guaranteed Results, Contact Us Now!
www.judgerc.org/


Maybe we should all do what the ad says, and contact them now :lol:



ed
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16 Jan 2008, 8:17 pm

A new update from the Boston Globe:

Quote:
Lawmakers consider limits on skin-shock therapy
Posted by Gideon Gil January 16, 2008 06:13 PM
By Patricia Wen, Globe Staff

In many ways, the high-pitched scene that unfolded in a packed State House public hearing today was nothing new: Over the past two decades, critics of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center have condemned the center's skin-shock therapy as cruel and barbaric, while supporters of this special education school, largely parents, have praised the facility as life-saving for mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed students.

But this time, after lawmakers failed in two previous attempts to shut down the Canton-based school, opponents of the Rotenberg Center offered what they described as a "compromise bill." Rather than ask for an outright ban of all skin-shock therapy, as they had in the past, they proposed legislation that would allow shocks only to stop students from actually hurting themselves or others, not for more "minor" acts such as swearing, shouting or failing to complete in a task.

The bill prompted an appearance at the hearing by Senate President Therese Murray, who described it as "excellent."
Sponsors of the bill said they hope it will lead to breakthrough changes for the Rotenberg school, the only facility in the nation with such pervasive use of skin-shock treatments. The school operates more than 30 group homes in communities around Canton.

"Today we have an opportunity to act," said Rep. John Sciback, a co-sponsor and a former director of psychology at Belchertown State School. "We cannot allow the status quo to exist as it is."

But in testimony before the joint House and Senate Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, Matthew Israel, the founder and executive director of the 37-year-old school, criticized the bill as far from a compromise, and said none of the authors of the bill attempted to contact him for comment.

Joined by more than a dozen parents who came out in support, Israel said the proposed bill would gut the essence of his behavioral-control therapy, which avoids psychotropic drugs in favor of a reward-punishment system. He said the bill would stop his staff from being able to administer shocks for a broader group of offenses, including outbursts and rebelliousness that can interupt teaching in the classroom. He also said the bill stops shocks for "antecedent" behaviors, which are often preludes to more troubling infractions.

For instance, he said, students may be given two-second electrical shocks for getting out of their seat without permission because that act, in the past, often leads to the student attacking a staff member. Similarly, a girl who has an obsession with pulling her hair out may receive a shock when her hand comes close to her scalp.

Israel, who has weathered two previous attempts by lawmakers to close his school, said: "In order to treat, you have to treat the antecedent."

He also criticized another part of the bill, which would allow shock treatments to be approved only in 30-day intervals, with new authorizations allowed only if approved by panels of psychological experts. The shock treatments, under the bill, would have to have proven value in reducing the violent behavior. Israel, however, said the skin-shock therapy should not necessarily be viewed as a cure, but as a "prosthetic" that may need to be maintained over time for some students.

The committee has not scheduled a vote on the bill, but supporters said they hope the full House and Senate will take it up by spring.


http://www.boston.com/news/health/blog/ ... consi.html



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16 Jan 2008, 9:46 pm

You do of course realize that some former student is eventually going to do something massively destructive to that school.



ed
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18 Jan 2008, 1:28 pm

New today, from the Boston Globe:

Quote:
Report says shock tapes destroyed against order
By Patricia Wen
Globe Staff / January 18, 2008

Top officials at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center destroyed videotapes at the focus of an investigation into alleged abuse at one of its group homes after being ordered by state investigators to preserve the tapes, according to a report obtained by the Globe.

The tapes, a compilation of footage from video cameras inside the group home in Stoughton, recorded an August 2007 incident in which staff wrongfully administered dozens of shocks to two emotionally disturbed teenagers, after a caller posing as a supervisor professed to be delivering orders from the school's director and a chief aide. One student received 77 shocks, the other 29.

An investigator with the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, which examines abuse allegations and can refer cases for criminal prosecution, viewed the tapes as part of her inquiry and asked Rotenberg officials if she could have a copy of them, according to the commission's report on the incident. School officials declined, saying that the school "did not want any possibility of the images getting into the media," according to the report, which was obtained by the Globe.

The investigator then directed the school to preserve a copy of the tapes for use by State Police conducting a criminal investigation. She was later told by a trooper, who apparently attempted to view them that "the images were not preserved by JRC."

Matthew Israel, founder and director of the school, did not return a phone call yesterday to discuss the tapes, but a school spokesman, Ernest Corrigan, said that school officials did not want to keep the tapes out of fear they would end up in the hands of the media or on the Internet, further upsetting the lives of the two victims in the Aug. 26 incident. He said investigators from the commission held an "exit interview" on Sept. 30 with school staff, leading them to believe there was no more need to keep the tapes.

In an interview with the Globe earlier this week, Israel said the tapes had been reviewed by several investigators soon after the August incident and were not preserved because the investigation "seemed to be finished."

He said the school normally keeps its recordings for about 30 days and then reuses the tapes.

Israel gave a similar explanation at the State House on Wednesday when asked about the tapes at a public hearing on a bill to restrict shock treatments at the school.

However, he did not mention being asked by state investigators to preserve the tapes.

The destruction of the tapes has led some critics of the school, the only one in the nation that uses shock treatments for special education students, to call for an investigation into whether Israel or his staff engaged in obstruction of justice.

"I believe the tape was intentionally destroyed because it was incriminating," said Senator Brian A. Joyce, a Democrat from Milton, who has long sought to ban shock therapy at the school. "I intend to ask the attorney general to investigate."

Lawyers with experience in state and federal prosecutions say that obstruction-of-justice investigations can be complex, but that they center largely on why a piece of evidence was destroyed.

"Any investigation would want to look into intent very closely," said Michael Ricciuti, a former prosecutor now in private practice in Boston.

The disclosure about the tapes occurs as the Disabled Persons Protection Commission is preparing for a public release of its findings Tuesday.

Its report concludes that one of the teenage students was severely physically and emotionally abused by the incident. The commission has referred the case to the Norfolk district attorney's office.

The Rotenberg school has more than 200 students, most of whom are mentally retarded, autistic, or emotionally disturbed. It has about 900 staff members.

Started by Israel in 1971, the residential school has attracted nationwide controversy for its unorthodox behavioral-modification techniques, which include the administration of two-second skin shocks as a way to deter violent or disruptive behavior.

Critics say that such shocks are often given for relatively minor infractions, such as swearing or leaving a seat without permission.

After failing twice in the past two decades to close the school, opponents have embraced a bill pending in the Legislature that would allow shocks only to stop students from hurting themselves or others.

Leo Sarkissian - executive director of The Arc of Massachusetts, a grass-roots organization representing people with intellectual disabilities - said he was outraged to learn that investigators no longer have the tapes, saying the destruction of the recordings shows "a lack of integrity" by Israel and his staff.

But Corrigan, spokesman for the school, said such assertions are unfair, adding that school officials voluntarily set up video cameras to monitor the staff and student performance.

"There is no obligation to hold on to these tapes for any length of time," he said.

Patricia Wen can be reached at [email protected].


http://www.boston.com/news/local/articl ... er/?page=1



ed
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24 Mar 2008, 7:06 am

Here's another Boston Globe story on the center:

Quote:
Shock treatment
How to 'decelerate' a teenager

By Matthew Battles
March 23, 2008

In 1971, Dr. Matthew Israel founded the Behavior Research Institute in Canton. Its name was later changed to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center to honor the jurist who upheld Israel's controversial methods in court. At Harvard in the 1950s, Israel was a student of B. F. Skinner, founder of behavioral psychology and author of "Walden Two," a utopian novel whose heroes try to build a perfect society through behavioral conditioning. In "Walden Two," people are encouraged by a system of rewards and punishments to live simple, frugal lives, to express themselves through art and classical music, and to trust the wisdom of their leaders. After college, Israel formed the Association of Social Design, a Skinner-esque utopian community in Boston. The community failed, and Israel went on to start what became the Rotenberg school.

In 1994, Matthew Israel and David Marsh obtained a patent for an "apparatus for administering electrical aversive stimulus." (An image from the patent is shown here.) They dubbed the device a Graduated Electronic Decelerator, or GED, its purpose being to "decelerate" a patient engaged in inappropriate behavior by administering an electric shock.

In the GEDs used at the Rotenberg Center, battery and receiver are bundled into a backpack, with electrodes routed through the straps to make contact with the patient's skin. Guards carry remote control devices with patients' photos emblazoned on them.

In filing his patent, Israel followed the example of Skinner. Among Skinner's best-known inventions was the operant conditioning box, or Skinner Box, a cage designed to allow researchers to administer rewards (food) and punishments (electric shocks) to lab animals without having to interact directly with the animal. Skinner also invented the "air crib," a box for taking care of infants without having to swaddle or diaper them. Among his most controversial inventions, it was also jokingly called an "heir conditioner."

"The method of treatment of this invention," according to the patent, consists in "securing a remotely activated apparatus for administering electrical aversive stimulus to a patient to be treated. The patient is then observed for signs of undesired behavior." The patent specifies self-injury as the sort of behavior to be deterred. But, according to a January article in the Globe, therapists at the Rotenberg Center have been accused of being more liberal in their definition of "undesired behavior," delivering shocks for offenses such as swearing or shouting. In August of last year, therapists at the school received a call from a disgruntled patient posing as a staff member, who ordered them to administer multiple shocks (in one case, as many as 77) to two students with whom he was having a dispute. The shocks were administered before the hoax was discovered.

Image

In Skinner's "Walden Two" the founder explains that children in the community are taught to control their impulses "[b]y having the children 'take' a more and more painful shock" because, he explains, "[s]ome of us learn [self-]control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blaming our failure on being born the wrong way." The problem with utopian solutions in real-life communities like the Rotenberg Center, of course, is that not only the children need to learn self-control; self-control is also required of those with their fingers on the shock button.

Matthew Battles is a freelance writer in Jamaica Plain and the author of "Library: An Unquiet History."


http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas ... treatment/



ed
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16 May 2008, 3:54 pm

and a new development:

The Boston Globe wrote:
Rotenberg records reportedly are seized
By Patricia Wen
Globe Staff / May 15, 2008
State Police seized documents late last week from the offices of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton that are related to a prank phone call last summer that led two students to wrongfully receive dozens of punishing electrical shocks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The collection of evidence has to do with a yearlong grand jury investigation led by the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, said Kenneth Mollins, a New York lawyer who has filed several lawsuits against the school and who said he spoke to a representative of Coakley's office about the Rotenberg investigation. Mollins said he was told the grand jury is also examining possible financial improprieties by the school.

The second source, who works for the state and asked to remain nameless because this person is not authorized to speak about grand jury proceedings, said State Police investigators came with a search warrant and left with boxes of documents. The source said the investigation had an ambitious scope and involves multiple government agencies.

Reached last night, Ernest Corrigan, a spokesman for the school, did not confirm that a seizure of documents had occurred last week. He said only that school officials have been cooperative with state and local police ever since they reported the prank phone call to police last summer.

"We've been supportive of the investigation," he said.

A spokesman for Coakley declined to comment, saying the office never confirms or denies an ongoing investigation.

The special-education school, which serves about 250 adults and children from across the country with emotional and behavioral problems, has been the target of numerous government investigations related to its unorthodox behavior-modification methods, including skin-shock treatments to deter inappropriate behavior. Rotenberg officials, who have weathered two attempts by Massachusetts officials to close the center, have defended its treatment methods as effective for some students.

School officials have also said they have instituted numerous safeguards to prevent a repeat of the Aug. 26 incident, in which two emotionally disturbed students wrongfully received dozens of electrical shocks based on instructions from a caller posing as a supervisor. The incident was caught on 24-hour surveillance tapes, which were shown to investigators last summer. The tapes were subsequently destroyed by school officials, even though investigators had instructed them to preserve the tapes.

After hearing about the destruction of the tapes, Senator Brian A. Joyce, a Democrat from Milton who has sought to ban shock therapy at the school, said he intended to ask the attorney general's office to look into the matter.

Patricia Wen can be reached at [email protected]



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20 May 2008, 9:07 am

I've thought that they've gotten rid of such nonsense, years ago. I guess that I was wrong. I wonder if this is only happening in America. If so, than why do Americans have to be so nasty to their children. Especially if their children have disabilities. Things really haven't changed since the 1960s, have they? If this happens in more countries around the world, I guess that the world isn't as tolerant as I thought it was. I can't believe that this garbage is taking place, in the year, 2008. This makes me sick. There are even parents in America who will shock their autistic children for what they view as being misbehaviour. People are vary nasty to their autistic children and even adult children, all around the world. If this doesn't stop, there will be another Holocaust.


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ed
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20 May 2008, 9:14 am

CockneyRebel wrote:
I've thought that they've gotten rid of such nonsense, years ago. I guess that I was wrong. I wonder if this is only happening in America. If so, than why do Americans have to be so nasty to their children. Especially if their children have disabilities. Things really haven't changed since the 1960s, have they? If this happens in more countries around the world, I guess that the world isn't as tolerant as I thought it was. I can't believe that this garbage is taking place, in the year, 2008. This makes me sick. There are even parents in America who will shock their autistic children for what they view as being misbehaviour. People are vary nasty to their autistic children and even adult children, all around the world. If this doesn't stop, there will be another Holocaust.


This is the only place in America where this is allowed.



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20 May 2008, 6:06 pm

I had not known that the shocks were used as an alternative to medication. I know I'd rather be drugged than given electrical shocks! Seriously, might some of these children have problems that could easily be alleviated with medication, decreasing the reasons to shock them?

It doesn't make sense to physically harm someone for behavior they cannot control, while denying them medication that could enable them to control their behavior,



ed
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20 May 2008, 6:30 pm

EvilKimEvil wrote:
It doesn't make sense to physically harm someone for behavior they cannot control, while denying them medication that could enable them to control their behavior,


Since when did the NT world make sense? :lol:



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31 May 2008, 9:16 pm

wow... a horror story and it is near me!


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01 Jun 2008, 9:40 pm

Slightly on an off note… but does anyone watch Cold Case?

Particularly the episode with the girl that was acting/dressing like a guy and her father ended up sending her to this place that made women act like, well... women. They where made to put on lipstick and such. She refused to follow orders and they ended up giving her Electric shock therapy and… it basically left her like a vegetable. It was set back in the 50's or 60s I believe.

I know it is fiction, but it still chilled me.



ed
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25 Jul 2008, 9:03 am

It looks like this abominable practice will continue:

Quote:
House blocks latest attempt to restrict electric shocks at JRC in Canton

By Jay Turner
Canton Citizen Staff

A 20-year legislative odyssey aimed at ending the practice of electric skin shock treatment at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton will apparently continue, after the latest proposal, sponsored by State Senator Brian Joyce (D) of Milton, recently stalled in a conference committee after facing opposition from members of the House.

Attached to the 2009 state budget as Amendment EHS 874, the measure had previously passed the Senate and was being hailed by Joyce as a true compromise between an outright ban and the current requirement that the school get permission from a state probate court before administering shocks to any of its students.

“We have been stymied by the House and it’s incredibly frustrating,” said Joyce in a telephone interview on Friday.

The legislation, authored by Joyce and Representative John Scibak (D), a licensed psychologist, would have limited the controversial treatment to cases in which the student’s behavior presented an “immediate risk of serious physical injury or harm to self or others,” and only after all other “less intrusive” treatments had proved unsuccessful.

Currently, the Rotenberg Center, which treats both high- and low-functioning students with behavior problems, employs the two-second electric shocks to address a range of behaviors, including some that the JRC admits might seem too “innocuous” if viewed out of context, such as mumbling, deliberately providing a wrong answer, and getting out of one’s seat without permission.

According to its website, www.judgerc.org, the school as of August 2007 was using skin shock treatment on 43 percent of its 154 school-age students, as well as 85 percent of its 65 adult residents, most of whom are lower functioning. JRC also uses other behavior modification techniques, including water spraying, known as “sensory punishment,” and “movement limitation” as a form of physical punishment.

“I think what they’re doing there is wrong,” Joyce said. “I think that innocent children are being harmed.”

In addition to pointing a finger at JRC founder Matthew Israel, Joyce said he also faults House leadership for repeatedly blocking attempts to ban what he considers to be “barbaric” acts committed on the “most vulnerable citizens,” including many with autism and mental retardation.

Joyce himself has now been rebuffed twice in three years, including in 2006 when he went for an all-out ban — a proposal that also died in a conference committee after passing the Senate.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the JRC has a powerful ally in Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, whose nephew attends the school and has reportedly benefited from skin shock treatment. In fact, according to a State House News Service report, Sanchez’s nephew hit himself repeatedly during a January legislative hearing, and then Sanchez, after restraining him, stated that the treatment has “kept [the child] alive.”

Meanwhile, Joyce, who was recently honored as “Legislator of the Year” by the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, has vowed to “continue to push this issue” until children in Canton and at some of the JRC’s nearby residential facilities are no longer shocked.

“The government has a fundamental duty to protect vulnerable populations,” he said in a press release, “and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a moral imperative to address this issue once and for all.”

It isn’t just the treatment that has the senator concerned, either. He pointed to an incident last August that made national headlines, in which staff members wrongfully shocked two students dozens of times after being ordered to do so by a caller posing as a supervisor. The caller was later determined to be a former JRC student.

Citing a story printed in the Boston Globe, Joyce pointed to the fact that surveillance tapes of the incident were shown to investigators, but that school officials later destroyed the tapes despite being instructed to preserve them.

The story also reported that State Police in May seized boxes of documents from JRC offices as part of a yearlong grand jury investigation into the prank call incident led by the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Globe quoted an unnamed source who said the investigation “had an ambitious scope and involves multiple government agencies.”

Joyce also detailed other alleged “horrors” in a press release, including children receiving second degree burns from the skin shocks, and children who have been shocked as many as 5,000 times in one day.

“We don’t allow shock therapy on our prisoners and we should not allow it to be used on innocent children,” he said in the press release. “We have an obligation to stop the unfettered use of shock therapy on a very vulnerable group of disabled children and adults.”