SHOCK - Prank Call Leads to Kids Getting Electro Shock

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jjstar
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18 Dec 2007, 3:17 pm

State probes prank call that prompted shock treatments on 2 teens in hospital

3 hours ago

BOSTON - Massachusetts state officials are probing a prank call that resulted in two teens receiving electric shock treatments at a residential centre for people with special needs.

Officials said Tuesday that the incident at the controversial Judge Rotenberg Education Center occurred back in August.

An initial investigation indicates that a former student called in the orders to the centre on Aug. 26.

The state's Disabled Persons Protection Committee is investigating a complaint that a third resident of the centre - an adult - also received shock treatments after the call.

According to the school website, it treats people with a wide variety of behaviour problems, including autistic-like students who have aggressive, self-injurious or destructive behaviours and high-functioning students with psychiatric or emotional problems.

The centre has survived two attempts in the past by the state to close it over allegations that its unorthodox methods amount to abuse.

The complaints related to the prank call were referred to the state police and the Norfolk District Attorney's Office.

The state Department of Early Education and Care said the call allegedly came from someone claiming to be on the staff of Dr. Matthew Israel, the psychologist who founded the school.

The centre is believed to be the only school in the United States that uses two-second bursts of skin-shock punishments to change destructive behaviour.

Such treatments are used in a minority of cases as part of overall therapy for "very deeply emotionally disturbed young adults," the centre says

Ernest Corrigan, the school's senior counsel, added that they are applied "only after obtaining prior parental, medical, psychiatric, human rights, peer review and individual approval from a Massachusetts Probate Court."

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TheMidnightJudge
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18 Dec 2007, 3:29 pm

Yeah I've seen many debates about the place on this site before. It's pretty bad. Thing is, the shock therapy is shown to stop the behavior they are trying to stop, so to them it seems like a good idea. But kids who come out of that place are worse then before, which defeats the purpose.
Our mental health care system is horrible.



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18 Dec 2007, 3:36 pm

TheMidnightJudge wrote:
Yeah I've seen many debates about the place on this site before. It's pretty bad. Thing is, the shock therapy is shown to stop the behavior they are trying to stop, so to them it seems like a good idea. But kids who come out of that place are worse then before, which defeats the purpose.
Our mental health care system is horrible.


It is horrible - and actually I believe it's designed to be that way, to keep the people small, powerless and sick. More controllable that way. Kids unruly? Exhibiting destructive behavior? Lock em up! Drug em. Shock em! You just know something is dysfunctional to the core when someone can just and put in the *order* to have this done. As if they were just ordering a pizza. Those poor kids. Argh.


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ed
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18 Dec 2007, 4:40 pm

Here is the story from boston.com:

Quote:
Prank led school to treat two with shock
Special ed center duped, report says

Email|Print| Text size – + By Patricia Wen
Globe Staff / December 18, 2007
Two special education students at the controversial Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton were wrongfully delivered dozens of punishing electrical shocks in August based on a prank phone call from a former student posing as a supervisor, a state investigative report has found.

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.

The Judge Rotenberg center, which serves about 250 adults and children from across the country, has been under fire for more than two decades for its unorthodox behavior-modification treatments, including electric shock treatments. Its defenders say that the school takes in troubled students, some with self-damaging behavior, who have been rejected by other schools. The center, which Massachusetts officials have tried twice to close because of its treatment methods, focuses on serving people with autism, mental retardation, and emotional problems.

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.

The shock devices, which are strapped to some students' arms, legs, or torsos, deliver two-second electric jolts to the skin. The devices are controlled remotely by teachers.

State officials said the identity of the prankster is known to law enforcement authorities, but they would not release his name publicly and he has not been arrested. The identity of the staffer who was fooled into administering the shocks has also not been released. State officials indicated that some disciplinary action took place, though they would not specify what it was.

According to records from the Disabled Persons Protections Commission hotline phone log, there are repeated complaints about the incident. One entry said "the caller claimed that the shocks were approved, however, they were not."

Based on the prankster's call, one of the students was also wrongfully placed in four-point restraints, limiting mobility of all four limbs.

Critics of the Rotenberg school say the case shows that school officials have failed to live up to their public promises to deliver electric shocks only sparingly and with great oversight.

"This shows a systemic breakdown at the center," said Leo Sarkissian, executive director of ARC of Massachusetts, which represents people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. "It only takes a phone call to instigate shocks to this degree."

Top officials in New York and Washington, D.C., where many of the center's students originate, have called for a stop to the controversial shock treatments at the school.

Yesterday, in a prepared statement, state Senator Brian Joyce called on officials to more strictly limit and regulate the use of shock therapy in the state.

"This incident is horrifying and it would be immoral for the Legislature and the Executive branch not to react strongly and swiftly," Joyce said.

Corrigan, the spokesman for the center, said he is confident the August case will not be repeated, and he hopes this episode "will not be used to overshadow the good work that we do for those who have no where else to go."

Patricia Wen can be reached at [email protected].


http://www.boston.com/news/local/articl ... ith_shock/

To me, using such a punishment amounts to torture and child abuse.

I will email Senator Joyce to encourage his efforts. [email protected]

I work just a little down the street from this awful place. It sure would be great if we could close it.



Remnant
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18 Dec 2007, 5:31 pm

I would have to call it felonious child abuse, and the staff that did this are morons.



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18 Dec 2007, 6:26 pm

That place should be shut down. With a bunker buster missile to drive the point home. :twisted:


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ed
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18 Dec 2007, 6:32 pm

Anubis wrote:
That place should be shut down. With a bunker buster missile to drive the point home. :twisted:


Well, they're certainly authoritarian :lol:



ed
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18 Dec 2007, 6:36 pm

I sent the following to Senator Joyce, with a copy to my own State Senator:

Quote:
I just read of your call for greater control over the Judge Rotenberg Center. Thank you for your efforts.

Using electric shock "treatments" as a punishment amounts to torture, and certainly child abuse. If someone used this method to train his dog he would surely be arrested.
I know electro shock therapy has been successfully used to treat certain mental disorders, but in those cases it is used to shock the brain, sort of like resetting it. This is a simple case of using shock therapy as a punishment, much as a parent would by spanking his child. What do you think the State would say if you used electric shock to punish your child? Maybe a cattle prod?

Please continue your efforts to reign in this "house of horrors." I wish you great success.



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18 Dec 2007, 6:52 pm

School of Shock

NEWS: Eight states are sending autistic, mentally retarded, and emotionally troubled kids to a facility that punishes them with painful electric shocks. How many times do you have to zap a child before it's torture?

By Jennifer Gonnerman
August 20, 2007


Rob Santana awoke terrified. He'd had that dream again, the one where silver wires ran under his shirt and into his pants, connecting to electrodes attached to his limbs and torso. Adults armed with surveillance cameras and remote-control activators watched his every move. One press of a button, and there was no telling where the shock would hit—his arm or leg or, worse, his stomach. All Rob knew was that the pain would be intense.

Every time he woke from this dream, it took him a few moments to remember that he was in his own bed, that there weren't electrodes locked to his skin, that he wasn't about to be shocked. It was no mystery where this recurring nightmare came from—not A Clockwork Orange or 1984, but the years he spent confined in America's most controversial "behavior modification" facility.

In 1999, when Rob was 13, his parents sent him to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, located in Canton, Massachusetts, 20 miles outside Boston. The facility, which calls itself a "special needs school," takes in all kinds of troubled kids—severely autistic, mentally retarded, schizophrenic, bipolar, emotionally disturbed—and attempts to change their behavior with a complex system of rewards and punishments, including painful electric shocks to the torso and limbs. Of the 234 current residents, about half are wired to receive shocks, including some as young as nine or ten. Nearly 60 percent come from New York, a quarter from Massachusetts, the rest from six other states and Washington, D.C. The Rotenberg Center, which has 900 employees and annual revenues exceeding $56 million, charges $220,000 a year for each student. States and school districts pick up the tab.

The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. Yet the program continues to thrive—in large part because no one except desperate parents, and a few state legislators, seems to care about what happens to the hundreds of kids who pass through its gates.

In Rob Santana's case, he freely admits he was an out-of-control kid with "serious behavioral problems." At birth he was abandoned at the hospital, traces of cocaine, heroin, and alcohol in his body. A middle-class couple adopted him out of foster care when he was 11 months old, but his troubles continued. He started fires; he got kicked out of preschool for opening the back door of a moving school bus; when he was six, he cut himself with a razor. His mother took him to specialists, who diagnosed him with a slew of psychiatric problems: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Rob was at the Rotenberg Center for about three and a half years. From the start, he cursed, hollered, fought with employees. Eventually the staff obtained permission from his mother and a Massachusetts probate court to use electric shock. Rob was forced to wear a backpack containing five two-pound, battery-operated devices, each connected to an electrode attached to his skin. "I felt humiliated," he says. "You have a bunch of wires coming out of your shirt and pants." Rob remained hooked up to the apparatus 24 hours a day. He wore it while jogging on the treadmill and playing basketball, though it wasn't easy to sink a jump shot with a 10-pound backpack on. When he showered, a staff member would remove his electrodes, all except the one on his arm, which he had to hold outside the shower to keep it dry. At night, Rob slept with the backpack next to him, under the gaze of a surveillance camera.

Employees shocked him for aggressive behavior, he says, but also for minor misdeeds, like yelling or cursing. Each shock lasts two seconds. "It hurts like hell," Rob says. (The school's staff claim it is no more painful than a bee sting; when I tried the shock, it felt like a horde of wasps attacking me all at once. Two seconds never felt so long.) On several occasions, Rob was tied facedown to a four-point restraint board and shocked over and over again by a person he couldn't see. The constant threat of being zapped did persuade him to act less aggressively, but at a high cost. "I thought of killing myself a few times," he says.

Rob's mother Jo-Anne deLeon had sent him to the Rotenberg Center at the suggestion of the special-ed committee at his school district in upstate New York, which, she says, told her that the program had everything Rob needed. She believed he would receive regular psychiatric counseling—though the school does not provide this.

As the months passed, Rob's mother became increasingly unhappy. "My whole dispute with them was, 'When is he going to get psychiatric treatment?'" she says. "I think they had to get to the root of his problems—like why was he so angry? Why was he so destructive? I really think they needed to go in his head somehow and figure this out." She didn't think the shocks were helping, and in 2002 she sent a furious fax demanding that Rob's electrodes be removed before she came up for Parents' Day. She says she got a call the next day from the executive director, Matthew Israel, who told her, "You don't want to stick with our treatment plan? Pick him up." (Israel says he doesn't remember this conversation, but adds, "If a parent doesn't want the use of the skin shock and wants psychiatric treatment, this isn't the right program for them.")

continued with photos - http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature ... shock.html


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19 Dec 2007, 10:45 am

Electroshock is torture, ABU GHRAIB style. How can you be silent?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYYdIfFcMtM[/youtube]


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ed
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22 Dec 2007, 7:20 am

from the Boston Globe:

Quote:
State authorities have given a controversial special education school in Canton a one-year extension of its authority to use electric shock treatments on students, provided the center makes a series of significant changes.

Among them, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center must prove that it uses shock treatments only for the most dangerous and self-destructive behaviors and that the aversive therapy actually led to a reduction of those harmful actions.

The center must also stop electric shocks for "seemingly minor infractions," such as getting out of a seat without approval or swearing. And it must show greater commitment to phasing out shock treatments, especially for those about to leave the school to enter mainstream society.

Past reauthorizations have been for two years, rather than the one year given this time.

Jean McGuire, assistant secretary of the state's Office of Health and Human Services, said the state has issued this conditional reauthorization well aware of the events last August in which two teenagers wrongfully received dozens of electrical shocks at the direc tion of a caller posing as a supervisor. The caller told staff to wake up the teenagers and give them dozens of shocks each based on alleged behavior that had occurred at least five hours earlier.

McGuire said the center has promised to eliminate delayed punishments and end the delivery of shocks to students who are sleeping. While the school's critics want the state to ban any form of shock treatment, McGuire said the state also had to consider the many parents who defend the school as the only effective place for their hard-to-teach youngsters.

School spokesman Ernest Corrigan said he believes the one-year authorization is a sign of the state's continuing faith in the school. He said that many of the state's top psychologists and physicians were involved in the state's inspections of the school this year and that their decision to recommend conditional reauthorization of shock treatment is a "reaffirmation of some of the good work" at the school.

Critics of the Rotenberg Center expressed disappointment that state officials, especially in light of the August episode, did not order the school to end the shock treatment program, which critics consider ineffective and inhumane.

"The state needed to go further," said Leo Sarkissian, executive director of The Arc of Massachusetts, a group representing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The provisional reauthorization was given by the Department of Mental Retardation, which is responsible for overseeing the shock therapy program. The Rotenberg Center is the only school in the nation that depends so heavily on shock treatments for its students, most of whom are autistic, mentally retarded, or have serious emotional problems.

According to the report, the school has about 250 students, nearly all of whom attend the center's Canton school and live in one of its 38 group homes in nearby communities. Two-thirds are minors; the rest are adults. Roughly one-third are from Massachusetts. About 60 percent of all students have court-approved plans that allow for shock treatment.

In the reauthorization, state officials criticized the center for producing generic-looking treatment and assessment plans for the students, seemingly using a common template for many of them.

They also said the center failed to consider circumstances that may have provoked an offending behavior or to reduce those triggering situations.

One student observed by inspectors looked bored sorting Popsicle sticks. This boredom, the report found, may "serve to lower the threshold for engaging in inappropriate behaviors," thus triggering a potential punishing shock.

McGuire said the state plans to inspect the school next month, as well as repeatedly throughout the year to make sure the required changes are being addressed.

"We're being as aggressive as we can," McGuire said.


http://www.boston.com/news/local/massac ... _one_year/



ed
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22 Dec 2007, 8:36 am

I have sent the following email to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick:

Quote:
I was dismayed to find that your administration gave approval to the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton to continue using electric shock "treatments" for another year. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massac ... _one_year/

Perhaps you aren't aware that these are not treatments at all, but are used strictly as punishment, similar to a parent spanking a child. This amounts to torture and child-abuse. If you used electric shock "treatments" to punish your dog, you would be arrested for animal cruelty. How can you allow a state-certified facility to use them on people?

The recent case in the news about two youths being shocked after a prank phone call ordering the staff to administer the shocks shows how these treatments work. The seven staff members on duty thought the call was genuine, and so proceeded in the usual manner. This amounted to dozens of two-second shocks to these unfortunate individuals. One received 77 shocks, requiring hospitalization for electric burns. This apparently is standard procedure at the center. Do you really approve of this?

The center defends it's use of electric shock as punishment by saying it works. This sounds like President Bush justifying the use of torture on POW's by saying it works. This is abhorrent, and should not be allowed by any civilized nation.

Please review your administration's authorization for this, and have them reverse this barbaric decision.


If you would like to contact Governor Patrick about this, go to http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=gov3utiliti ... contact_us



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22 Dec 2007, 10:01 am

The attendants should have had a clue when the caller couldn't stop giggling while he was giving the orders. Or should they? I can just see a comedy sketch where one asks the other "How do you know it was Dr. So and So who gave the order?" "Because I know his high pitched giggle and childish voice."



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23 Dec 2007, 3:23 am

Remnant wrote:
The attendants should have had a clue when the caller couldn't stop giggling while he was giving the orders. Or should they? I can just see a comedy sketch where one asks the other "How do you know it was Dr. So and So who gave the order?" "Because I know his high pitched giggle and childish voice."


That sounds like it could've been a Kids in the Hall comedy sketch.


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23 Dec 2007, 3:51 am

Don't forget the 'people' that put their children into the hands of these psychopaths, I mean, you have to lack in normal human feelings, empathy and love, when you send your child there.



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23 Dec 2007, 11:00 am

Zwerfbeertje wrote:
Don't forget the 'people' that put their children into the hands of these psychopaths, I mean, you have to lack in normal human feelings, empathy and love, when you send your child there.


It's easy for me to see how such "parents" could have been the cause of the children's problems in the first place. My own mother's approach, little different from the way that my teachers would approach me when they wanted something, was set up to agitate me and cause me to act out. She would punish me for acting out when she knew that she had frightened me into it or caused confusion that led to it.