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Judge Permits Electric Shock Therapy On Students With Special Needs Or Disabilities

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A school in Masscheuts has been granted permission to continue using a form of electric shock therapy on their students. The decision was made after a long-running battle with the state's officials who have now decided the treatment is in the children's best interest.

Electric Shock Therapy On Special Needs Children  

The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, MA is the only center in the United States that has used the graduated electronic decelerator (GED) in order to maintain the behavior of the children with developmental delays. The state has been trying to ban the treatment since 2013 after a video surfaced of an 18-year-old boy named Andre McCollins receiving multiple shock treatments. However, Judge Katherine Fields has decided to side with the school. 

The GED treatment is used for aversive conditioning, which is a term used in psychology where a person is given a negative stimulation in response to an unwanted action. The GED gives skin shocks for certain behaviors in hopes to rectify or get rid of the behavior.

How GED Was Used

At the Judge Rotenberg Center, the GED treatment was used on students to prevent and control self-harm or violent reactions. The treatment may have also been used when a student is violent towards someone else, which could include throwing an object at a person or hitting someone. The treatment does give the person painful shocks. However, it is not the same as ETC or Electroconvulsive therapy.

The treatment is useful for stopping the erratic behavior of the child but it does not treat the underlying cause of the problem. It is also hard to determine what is considered to be excessive or what could successful in regards to treatment.

Risks And Concerns

Many health experts have controversial views on the treatment because of the unknown intersection with ethics, medicine, who is allowed to administer the treatment, and the judiciary system. The food and drug administration (FDA) stated previously that electric shock therapy can lead to physical injuries, including trauma, burning of the skin, seizures, or fractures.

Despite the controversy, the parents of the children who attend the center insist that this treatment is the last resort for them.

"No one loves our children more than we do; we have tried and continue to try everything available to them, including positive behavior therapies and 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 JRC Parent's Group stated.  

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