A Massachusetts judge has sided with a school that uses shock therapy on students with disabilities.
The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Mass., is reportedly the only school in the country that still resorts to this kind of method to treat its students with special needs, according to WCVB 5, a Boston-based ABC-affiliated TV station.
The JRC on its website says its mission is “to provide each individual with the least intrusive most effective form of treatment to ensure his/her safety, the safety of others, and promote healthy growth and development.”
In 2013, a video surfaced showing an 18-year-old student receiving repeated shock treatments at the center, WCVB reported. The clip, which was datedOctober 25, 2002, shows a student named Andre screaming and falling off the chair as two to three staff members try to hold him down after someone says “Andre, you’re not following directions to take your jacket off.”
That same year, then Gov. Deval Patrick challenged the decree that allowed the JRC to continue the practice, according to the Boston Globe.
Bristol Probate and Family Court Judge Katherine Field ruled on June 20 that the state failed to prove that this mode of therapy does not “conform to the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Many parents appear to be in support of this ruling. Several of them have called the method “life-changing,” the Independent reports. A group called the JRC Parents Group issued a statement to WCVB, expressing their support for the ruling.
“No one loves our children more than we do,” the statement read. “We have tried and continue to try everything available to them. including positive behavior therapies and psychotropic medications to help our children, but as the Court found — there is no evidence that any alternative treatment would be effective to treat our children and keep them safe.”
The group also criticized the Department of Developmental Service officials for acting “in bad faith,” and said that the need for using aversive treatments such as shock therapy comes after they’ve exhausted other possibilities such as positive behavior therapies.
As of August 2017, 58 students were approved to receive the shock treatment at the center, according to WCVB.
[Photo A teacher wears shock treatment transmitters during class at Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, MA. By Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images]