Wednesday, 4 July 2012

UN Investigates Whether Torture is Happening at Judge Rotenberg Center

I clearly remember debates, as recently as since Obama's come into power, Judge Rotenberg Centerabout whether the US uses torture to get information from suspected terrorists, and the ethical implications of doing so. It dominated the news for a while. Americans were really concerned about this question.

Why, I wonder, haven't we been so concerned about the torture *definitely* going on (in my opinion) right under our noses at the Judge Rotenberg Center for children with autism?  I don't know what else you call restraining a child face-down for seven hours for refusing to take off his coat and shocking him 31 times for tensing his body and yelling.

All Part of Judge Rotenberg Center's Treatment Plan

This was part of Andre McCollins' treatment plan. Even though it left him catatonic and put him in the hospital for nearly 6 weeks, Judge Rotenberg Center stood by it's actions and fought against a bill that would prevent it from using aversive shock treatment.

The 2002 video that brought all this to light (which Judge Rotenberg Center fought to repress), was made available to the public in April. Some of the footage is here. Be warned that it is difficult to watch:

A US Senate Committee held a hearing into the aversive therapy used at the Judge Rotenberg Center, and the UN has been asked to rule on whether what's happening at the Center is torture.

Judge Rotenberg's reaction to this? The Parent Association said:

"We are outraged that these people would use our vulnerable children as pawns. The right to choose the appropriate and safe treatment for our children, when nothing else has worked, must remain an option for the small percentage of children for whom this is a matter of life or death,"

Judge Rotenberg's response to all the attention it received from the 2002 video of Andre McCollins is here, for what it's worth:

And the government ultimately sided with them. The proposed shock ban was left out of the state budget, and the Judge Rotenberg Center can continue to use shock treatments for therapy.

Meet Me At Camera Three, Massachusetts Government

I'm sure that no one will be surprised that I call "bullshit" on all this. We treat our prisoners better than we're treating these kids. Refusing to take off your coat is not a matter of life-or-death. Even if we lived in a world where you could justify shocking a kid because of that behaviour, you can't justify retraining them for seven hours and shocking them 31 times. And I don't really care that most children in treatment at the Judge Rotenberg Center don't get shock therapy treatment. One child getting treated the way Andre McCollins did is one child too many.

Shame on you for your endorsement of the continued abuse of children with disabilities. I hope that the UN says unequivocally that Judge Rotenberg Center is torturing these kids and shuts the place down. Shame on you too, administrators of Judge Rotenberg Center. I'd like to know how you sleep at night, knowing what goes on in your facility.

Okay, I'll Stop Here

You get the point. Probably best to just stop here before I say something I really regret.

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