Monday, August 20, 2007

Dr. Matt Israel of the Rotenberg Center and his Electric Shock Program for Kids

Food deprivation. Isolation. Electric shocks. Inside the taxpayer-funded program that treats American kids like enemy combatants. The main feature in Mother Jones this week is an expose about Dr. Matt Israel of the Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts and his Electric Shock Program for Kids, running under the title of School of Shock They ask the question: Eight states are sending autistic, mentally retarded, and emotionally troubled kids to a facility that punishes them with painful electric shocks. How many times do you have to zap a child before it's torture?

The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. Yet the program continues to thrive—in large part because no one except desperate parents, and a few state legislators, seems to care about what happens to the hundreds of kids who pass through its gates.
Their sidebar articles include:
The main articles are too long to even begin to quote in full here, we will probably be featuring the sidebars over the next few days.

The most effective treatments used by the psych industry for troubled teenagers have these things in common: They use family-based therapies; they treat adolescents with empathy, dignity, and respect; and, except for very short periods of emergency stabilization, they keep teens at home. Things that should be common sense to begin with.

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