Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The School of Shock

Photograph by Larry Sultan for Mother Jones.

I recently listened to an Air America interview with Jennifer Gonnerman, the author of School of Shock, an expose' about a truly bizarre school located in Massachusetts, USA. Please check out her article on the Mother Jones website.

It's a "special needs school" that sees fit to discipline the kids by using electric shocks when they deviate from the plan. The above photograph is one of the students sporting the device that delivers the current. They also use other forms of behavior modification, but the electric shock device is the prominent technique at the facility.

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

(Rob was 13 years old at the time)

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.

I simply cannot imagine going to this extreme to get control of a kid. This is medieval! They are kids with learning/behavioral issues, not subjects of a bizarre experiment. Such nastiness will only foment existing problems. Josef Mengele must be grinning in his grave seeing this place flourishing.

The investigation is another example of the excellent work of the great journalists at Mother Jones. If you would like to read the full article, click here: School of Shock.


Matthew L. Israel, Ph.D. said...

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

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

Carrie said...

That's crazy David. I've heard of stuff like this going on in China. Hospitals are using electro-shock therapy as a means of treating children addicted to video games.