Tonight I watched a news story about the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), a residential facility for autistic and other children with behavioral problems. It is known as a school of last resort and has a controversial history.
Whatever the fuck they’re doing there, they admit to using “Level III Aversives” (i.e. electric shocks) to “treat” children with a variety of disabilities including attention-deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, autism, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a New York State Department of Education report — emotional problems, and criminal and abuse histories.
The “school” collects almost $250,000 per student from city and state taxes. A film of a frantic autistic teenager being subjected to 31 rounds of electric shocks is available here. It is disturbing, so be warned!
Among efforts to stop JRC from abusing its residents is a report by Disability Rights International filed with Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, charging that the severe pain and suffering being inflicted on children violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
JRC published a reply to this report on its website. Here is the best part and by “best” I mean most breathtakingly stupid and repugnant.
“Under state and federal law, non-disabled individuals have the right to choose aversive therapy to treat behavioral problems such as smoking and drinking. Preventing disabled persons from the opportunity to avail themselves of aversive therapy for their own behavior problems, would be an invidious discrimination against disabled persons.”
I know three mothers whose teenagers had to spend time in residential facilities after too many violent incidents. These mothers love their kids and want them to learn self control. I know how hard things can get. But torturing children is immoral under any circumstance. Torturing children with disabilities is a crime and a sin.