End Approved Use of Harmful Aversives on Ppl w/ Disabilities @JRC
  • Petitioned Massachusetts DESE, Courts, Elected Officials

This petition was delivered to:

Massachusetts DESE, Courts, Elected Officials

End Approved Use of Harmful Aversives on Ppl w/ Disabilities @JRC

    1. Elizabeth Stringer Keefe
    2. Petition by

      Elizabeth Stringer Keefe

      Cambridge, MA

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, MA  is the nation’s only remaining residential special education school to utilize aversive therapy (including electric shock), on individuals with disabilities. Their practices include very controversial applications of behavioral methodology.  JRC is under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for their highly controversial practices;  a long history (link) of tension surrounds their application of behavioral methodology.   Their practices have been deemed to meet the legal definition of torture by dozens of disability rights organizations (link), yet the school, the only one in the nation to still utilize aversive therapy, remains open.  For years, JRC has justified the use of aversive methods to discipline students with disabilities despite sharp criticism from colleagues in the field by contending that it is the last resort for the many residents of the school, many of whom are considered to have severe disabilities. Massachusetts grants the Judge Rotenberg Center status as an approved special education school in the state. 

It is difficult to understand how JRC can continue to justify their methodology by their population alone, especially given that every other state in the nation, who clearly are also home to students with similar challenges, do not engage in - but rather, renounce - the use of aversive therapy. Massachusetts has stricter regulations enforcing the rights of both incarcerated individuals  and animals than students with disabilities.

In 2007, JRC attracted much unwanted attention when a report from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care detailed an incident in which two of the school’s residents were shocked upwards of 75 and 28 times, both requiring emergency medical attention, the result of a prank phone call from a former resident of the school. According to reports, JRC refused to cooperate in the subsequent investigation, destroying video evidence of the administration of the aversive procedures, despite being ordered to turn it over to the State Police

Now another family has come forward: Andre McCollins, a former student at the school, was shocked and restrained for 7 hours at JRC. Andre required follow up care, diagnosed as "acute stress response" by Children's Hospital (Boston). JRC asked a Massachusetts court to seal the tape under the premise that the public may be upset and interpret the contents out of context -- and the court agreed.

Why doesn't JRC want you to see this video? Because public outrage will bring the 50 million dollar a year organization to the ground.

#TAKEASTAND and let your voice be heard: you can decide for yourself what is and is not acceptable treatment of students with disabilities in Massachusetts.

See the story here: http://bit.ly/yuMD0a

My original blog onthis topic can be found here: http://rethinkingseveredisabilities.blogspot.com/ 

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • paula gaby HADLEY, MA
      • over 2 years ago

      i disaprove of shock therapy and behavior modification. those are tools used by the ill edcated. when yu gain empathy and feel that your clients are human ,,,yu treat them better.

    • Beau Jenkins NEWLLANO, LA
      • over 2 years ago

      What the hell is WRONG with you people?? WHY would you "approve" the use of TORTURE to start with?? Anyone, I don't care WHO you are- judge, bureaucrat or politician- who "approves" of torture needs to be LOCKED UP because he/she is clearly a THREAT to society!!

    • Anthony Koistinen ALEDO, TX
      • over 2 years ago

      Special needs students do not need to be treated badly. Commonsense ways to teach them how to behave are applicable. Cruelty is unacceptable.

    • Maggie Cerria ODENTON, MD
      • over 2 years ago

      As a special educator, a mother, and a childcare provider, this tragedy and horror has hit close to home. I would NEVER harm, hurt, or torture any child who I provide care for! It only teaches them to harm, hurt, or torture others! There are MANY new and innovative strategies, that do not require bodily harm, to educate children no matter what their disability may be! Shut this school down. It is a disgrace!

    • veronica okte CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM
      • over 2 years ago

      This action is disgusting! How can anyone try and disguise torture as some form of treatment! Utterly appalling!!!!


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