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Feds Warn School Over Shock Therapy

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning a Massachusetts school over its use of a controversial skin-shock therapy with students who have disabilities.

In a letter sent to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center earlier this month, FDA officials said the devices used to administer electric shocks at the school “violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Act) because your facility has failed to obtain FDA clearance or approval.”

The school, which serves children with developmental disabilities as well as those with behavioral and emotional problems, has come under fire for years from disability advocates who say that using electric shocks to address behavior issues is inhumane. However, some parents and former students have defended the school arguing that the approach is effective.

The FDA warning comes following an October inspection of the Canton, Mass. center. Federal officials said that if prompt action is not taken to correct the violations, the school may be subject to “seizure, injunction and civil money penalties.”

In a statement to ABC News in response to the FDA letter, officials at the Rotenberg Center said they plan to meet with the FDA in January and indicated that they are working with the agency to address the concerns.

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Comments (8 Responses)

  1. Thomas C. Wood says:

    Good! We members of the local ASAN New England have been trying for years to shut them down.

  2. Tania Morse says:

    I am so sick and tired of hearing of the JREC being referred to as a ‘school.’ It’s a torture facility that must be shut down. It is horrifying that this horrible place is still operating.

  3. Anne Carpenter says:

    I think they should just close that !@#$%^&* school down!

  4. VMGillen says:

    If they won’t shut it down, then they need to initiate a dual delivery system: the person administering the treatment must receive the same shocks delivered. JRC should be shut down. On the other hand, when my son was MANDATED for a residential placement, this was one of the few places with an opening (wonder why?) He ended up at Woods instead – (while he was there several residents were killed). And that is what MANDATES get you. Shut down JRC, yes. But for the sake of our people PLEASE open additional, local treatment facilities.

  5. Dee Wheat says:

    Aversion therapy does work. That does not necessarily mean that it is appropriate, or that it should be used. If I, or any other parent, used tactics even remotely like this, I would lose my parental rights and be jailed. This “school”, or any school, that uses tactics like this should expect to be treated precisely as I would be treated.

  6. F Dang says:

    Punishment as a behavioral method works. But is it something that is morally correct when there are other methods. A noted psychologist, in the past, who worked with individuals with severe autism used a cattle prod to stop them from banging their head against the corners of metal filing cabinets. During an interview with 60 minutes he informed that if a person uses punishment as a means to change behavior, when it comes time to show love for the person they would have to show more love to compensated for the shocks, otherwise don’t use shocks. The psychologist has since changed his methods and is using a positive behavioral approach. We used to refer to the psychologist as the “cattle prod” man.

    My question is why use a technique that hurt a person when there is a more positive approach to use. The use of a painful technique is saying more about the people who are using the technique. We are back to the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch trials.

  7. HR says:

    This school apparently has been using electric shock “therapy” for decades. Sounds like something from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Why has this school been allowed to remain open?

  8. D.Exum says:

    Good morning,
    Skin-shock therapy is so barbaric and a technique of the past! It is hard to believe a state like Massachusetts is still using this process,and I believe needs to be stopped… Just shut down the facility, and give these beautiful people a decent life and home.

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