It starts off:
Rob Santana awoke terrified. He'd had that dream again, the one where silver wires ran under his shirt and into his pants, connecting to electrodes attached to his limbs and torso. Adults armed with surveillance cameras and remote-control activators watched his every move. One press of a button, and there was no telling where the shock would hit—his arm or leg or, worse, his stomach. All Rob knew was that the pain would be intense.
Every time he woke from this dream, it took him a few moments to remember that he was in his own bed, that there weren't electrodes locked to his skin, that he wasn't about to be shocked. It was no mystery where this recurring nightmare came from—not A Clockwork Orange or 1984, but the years he spent confined in America's most controversial "behavior modification" facility.
BoingBoing sums The Judge Rotenberg Education Center up this way:
The school is run by a rogue behaviorist who uses discredited "punishment" techniques -- electroshock -- on children as young as nine to change their personalities. Matthew Israel, the school's $400,000/year executive director, straps homemade, overpowered shock apparatus to children (including severely autistic and retarded kids) and has his staff administer strong shocks for even minor infractions. Some children have been shocked thousands of times a day, and several children have died at the school.
This school was investigated by the New York State Education Department and here is the list Cory Doctrow put together of the findings:
* Staff shock kids for "nagging, swearing, and failing to maintain a neat appearance" and once threatened to shock a girl who sneezed and then asked for a tissue.
* Some students must "earn" meals by not displaying certain behaviors. Otherwise they are "made to throw a predetermined caloric portion of their food into the garbage."
* When students enter and leave the school each day, "almost all" are wearing some type of restraints, such as handcuffs or leg shackles.
* "Students may be restrained"--on a four-point restraint board or chair--"for extensive periods of time (e.g. hours or intermittently for days)."
* Some students are shocked while strapped to the restraint board.
* A "majority" of employees "serving as classroom teachers" are "not certified teachers."
* Rotenberg's marketing reps bestow presents on prospective families--"e.g. a gift bag for the family, basketball for the student."
* Although the center has described its shock device as "approved" by the fda in its promotional materials, it "has not been approved."
* The facility collects "comprehensive data" on behaviors it seeks to eliminate, but "there was no evidence of the collection of data on replacement or positive behaviors."
* The facility makes no assessment of the "possible collateral effects of punishment such as depression, anxiety, and/or social withdrawal."
What I want to know is - why aren't they in jail? If a parent did that to their child, they would most certainly be jailed for child abuse. How can a supposed school get away with it? What is wrong with our country?