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    Shocking Behavior

    By Kristen Houghton     

    Every educator is fully aware of behavior modification. In classroom management courses we are taught that we can modify a child’s behavior by having a reward system for accepted behavior and a “time-out” for inappropriate behavior. Though this is primarily for children in the lower grades of elementary school, it can be adjusted for students all the way through high school. Never, at any time, is physical punishment allowed.

    Most states do not allow any corporal punishment in any form for any reason. But, with written parental consent, the state of Massachusetts has a new form of “teaching” good behavior. It occurs in a private educational facility in the town of Canton. Students at the Judge Rotenberg Center are taught behavior modification in a totally shocking way. Literally.

    These children learn to change their behavior through electric shock therapy.

    Though it is not as drastic as the horrible medical procedure known as convulsive shock therapy, still administered in some mental institutions, the idea of using electric shock on children as young as six is alarming and cause for real concern.

    The method is called Aversion Shock Therapy, and was designed by Dr. Matthew Israel, for children who exhibit behavior problems at home and in school. Parents must give written permission to have their children “shocked.” They maintain they have exhausted all other avenues of help for their child.

    The students at the center wear a device called a GED which stands for “gradual electronic decelerator.” It is attached to their arms and legs. A staff member or clinician administers electric shocks when they see unacceptable behavior. Many students are left with burn marks and blisters. “Unacceptable behavior” can be something as simple as getting out of their seat or “annoying” the teacher.

    Not surprisingly, there have been allegations of abuse at the Rotenberg Center.

    Shock treatment is not the only method of modification. The withholding of food and physical restraints are also used as part of “improving” a student’s behavior. Some children are required to wear the device for twenty-four hours, even in the bath or shower, prompting fears of electrocution.

    Although parents often sign the consent form as a last resort after all else has failed to help their child, few realize the physical and emotional pain that can result from this practice. It is inhumane.

    In a country which prides itself on human rights the idea of using an electric shock to correct a child’s behavior is deplorable. It smacks of Nazism, torture, and sadistic guards. There must be a better alternative.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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