The video of staff at the Judge Rotenberg Center applying electrical shock as punishment for teenagers with developmental disabilities is deeply disturbing and an embarrassment to those professionals that devote their career to helping people.
Yes, there are some individuals that display extremely aggressive behaviors toward self or others. Yes, some families are grateful that this center has accepted responsibility for treating their loved one.
But in what world are these “treatments” acceptable?
What outcry would we see if such “treatment” was prescribed for our incarcerated criminals? Would we accept this type of “training” at our local animal rescue shelter? The method of “treatment” displayed in the video is violent and inhumane – for animals, criminals and those who struggle with developmental disabilities.
Close examination of the video reveals that these individuals were either completely subdued or had withdrawn from any form of aggressive behavior. These are not individuals “in the act” of a violent incident. Tied to a cot in four point restraint or sitting motionless at a computer does not require submission to prevent immediate danger.
These actions are violent assaults, whether performed by an angry mob or a team of calm professionals. To tie a teenager face down on a cot and then shock him into submission is not much different than strapping him to a post and using a whip.
The fact that the “professionals” in the video appear calm and controlled does not change the outcome; no different than if they applied retribution with a baseball bat.
Fortunately most professionals find outrage in these video examples. Using positive supports many organizations have found success treating individuals with severe challenges without resorting to cruel and unusual punishment.
If the violent electric shocks produce no long term effects and are as effective as reported on the Judge Rotenberg Center web site then would these employees be willing to submit to such “treatment” to improve their diet, decrease smoking, or correct their golf swing?
Violence begets violence. These wise words have been offered by many including the great Martin Luther King. “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.”
I join those who challenge the Judge Rotenberg Center to immediately discontinue these acts of violence and explore humane ways to support and inspire personal growth.
The National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism
NARPAA: Official Statement On Judge Rotenberg Center
Steven Muller, President of The National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism has released the following statement regarding the Judge Rotenberg Center: