School wins legal battle for children handicapped by electric shocks to “correct their behavior”

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that a Massachusetts school for children with disabilities could continue to administer electric shocks to its students.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously banned the electric shock treatment used at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton. The institution created the controversial treatment to correct aggressive or self-harming behavior in adults and children.

The school, along with a group of parents and guardians of students, had challenged the previous FDA ban. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the treatment fell under medical regulations and therefore was beyond the control of the FDA.

“With treatment, these residents can continue to participate in meaningful experiences, enjoy visits with their families, and most importantly, live safe and free from self-injurious and aggressive behaviors,” the school said in a statement. communicated following the decision.

“We have and will continue to fight to keep our loved ones safe and alive and to maintain access to this lifesaving treatment of last resort,” the parents of the students added in a statement.

The Judge Rotenberg Center, Canton, is the only school in the United States that uses electroshock treatment on its students, and has come under heavy criticism from disability rights advocates, including Mental Disability Rights International (DRI) and the United Nations, which considers the practice “torture”.

“The idea of ​​using electric shocks to torture children has been recognized as unacceptable around the world,” said DRI President Laurie Ahern. the Guardian.

“The real torture is what these kids are subjected to if they don’t have this program,” institute and treatment founder Matthew Israel told ABC News.

“They’re drugged up to their ears with drugs that make them so sedating that they basically sleep all day.”

There are approximately 300 students, including 48 overnight residents, at the Judge Rotenberg Center. According to Massachusetts News, about 55 of them are approved for graduated electronic decelerator shock devices, which remotely deliver a powerful shock to the wearer’s skin.

“One of our clients is a woman who has banged her head against the wall so many times that her retinas have come loose,” said attorney Max Stern, who represents parents and guardians at Judge Rotenberg Center.

“It was only when she went to several other institutions, not before arriving at the JRC and having this treatment that she was able to control this behavior so that she could undergo surgery to enable her to. goodbye, “Stern told Massachusetts News.

However, a 2006 report from the New York State Department of Education found that the device was routinely used for minor disobedience and “behavior that is not aggressive, injurious to health, or destructive, such as than harassing, swearing and not maintaining a neat appearance “.

The report also found no evidence that the school “takes into account potential negative effects, such as depression or anxiety, which may result from the use of aversive behavioral strategies with certain individual students.”

The school claims on its website that it “has provided highly effective education and treatment to both emotionally disturbed students, with conduct, behavior, emotional and / or psychiatric problems, as well as to those with intellectual disabilities or on the autism spectrum “.

The independent contacted Judge Rotenberg Center for further comment.

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