Shocking Kids into Compliance

The Judge Rotenberg Center, a residential school in northern Massachusetts, prides itself on teaching students with disabilities who have the most challenging behavioral issues. The school takes kids with severe intellectual disabilities – autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and a range of psychiatric disabilities – and then its employees attach electrodes to their arms, legs, and stomach, and shock them into submission.


One former resident, Andre McCollins, was shocked for not taking off his coat quickly enough. When he screamed in pain and tried to hide under a table, they shocked him for that. When he cried out for help, they shocked him for that. When he tensed up in anticipation of the next shock, they shocked him for that.

Over the next several hours, he was tied down to a restraint board and shocked 31 times. When his mother came to visit the next day, he was catatonic. He could not speak or even turn his head. He had open sores where the electrodes had been attached to his body. She took him to a hospital, where he remained for the next five weeks.

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He may never fully recover.

In the name of changing people's behavior, we've done some pretty awful things: drilling holes in heads to "let out the evil spirits," lobotomies to "cure" schizophrenia, and sexual orientation "corrections" (also involving electric shocks) to make people straight. Electric shocks as a form of behavior modification should be the next mistake we outlaw.

Yesterday the ACLU, along with many allies, testified at a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel hearing that the FDA should ban "aversive conditioning devices" that operate with a "noxious" electric shock. At the end of the hearing, the committee recommended banning the device.

Thank heavens.

While the recommendation still needs to be adopted by the FDA, this is a big step forward.

The devices are clearly inhumane. But the fact that they are only used on people with disabilities is telling. In no other population would we treat people like cattle to be prodded or dogs to be trained not to bark.

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Sounds like torture to me. Yet this is done without recourse to law against assault by representing the 'conditioning' as therapeutic !


Anyone that thinks this is ok should be hooked up and shocked so they to can be "cured" cuz there is obviously something seriously wrong with them. This just makes me so angry to know that this kind of abuse is still going on. We can hold a beating heart in our hands but we cant stop this from happening, we obviously have the wrong people in charge.

from Richard, V...

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is NOT a mental illness. One of its direct causes arises out of sending someone to war; it used to be called shell shock and battle fatigue before they adopted the PTSD label.
And war is caused by an "illness of the state" not individual people, unless you want to accuse the lawmakers (aka war pigs of the power) of being the ones who are mentally ill.
I had no issues with "mental illness" beFORE they sent me to Vietnam, which is why I choose to believe that sending people to war for virtually no good reason is the real problem.
The same is true if a person receives PTSD because they were victimized by crime or child abuse. The people who committed the crime are the ones who need the label, not their victims.
You don't get to label someone who's victimized by crime instead of laying the blame where it belongs: with the criminals who commit the offenses or the lawmakers who constantly send the poor to fight their wars.
If it were up to me, PTSD would not be considered the real illness.
Sending people to war would be the problem. Allowing for so much mindless violence in our entertainment would be the issue. Addressing the overwhelming amount of crime would be my main concern.


Non-consensual aversion therapy is simply unethical. I can speak from personal experience. I am happy to see this moving in the right direction.


I say that kids should be shocked when they won't shut the hell up.


Do you know what JRC characterizes as behavior needing shocks? It is a little girl with cerebral palsy who is blind and nonverbal moaning and reaching out to Staff for a hug. Yes, needing comfort and being unable to talk clearly indicates non compliant behavior to those sadists. The child got shocks for it. How sick!

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