Child abuse, Skinner style

Wow. Drop what you’re doing, and go read this article:


The only thing that sets these students apart from kids at any other school in America – aside from their special-ed designation – is the electric wires running from their backpacks to their wrists. Each wire connects to a silver-dollar-sized metal disk strapped with a cloth band to the student’s wrist, forearm, abdomen, thigh, or foot. Inside each student’s backpack is a battery and a generator, both about the size of a VHS cassette. Each generator is uniquely coded to a single keychain transmitter kept in a clear plastic box labeled with the student’s name. Staff members dressed neatly in ties and green aprons keep the boxes hooked to their belts, and their eyes trained on the students’ behavior. They stand ready, if they witness a behavior they’ve been told to target, to flip open the box, press the button, and deliver a painful two-second electrical shock into the student at the end of the wire.

Now, this is already astoundingly nasty stuff. The justification is that these are severely disabled children who would otherwise be locked up, drugged to the eyeballs, or killing themselves. I can’t accept it – because I wouldn’t want anybody to have that power over anyone, certainly not in such a regimented system – but at least I can see the defence. Only, read on and it gets far worse:


Sometimes, the student gets shocked for doing precisely what he’s told. In a few cases where a student is suspected of being capable of an extremely dangerous but infrequent behavior, the staff at Rotenberg won’t wait for him to try it. They will exhort him to do it, and then punish him. In these behavior rehearsal lessons, staff members will force a student to start a dangerous activity – for a person who likes to cut himself, they might get him to pick up a plastic knife on the table – and then shock him when he does.

And worse:


New York state inspectors concluded that “the background and preparation of staff is not sufficient,” that JRC shocks students “without a clear history of self-injurious behavior,” and that it uses the GED “for behaviors that are not aggressive, health dangerous, or destructive, such as nagging, swearing, and failing to keep a neat appearance.”

[crossposted from [my livejournal](http://oedipamaas49.livejournal.com)]

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