ABC News Nightline
By Katie Hinman and Kimberly Brown
June 30, 2010
It may look like any leafy New England campus, but inside one Massachusetts school for special needs children, the method of teaching at work is anything but ordinary.
The Boston-area’s Judge Rotenberg Center educates and treats enrollees ages 3 to adult, all of whom are struggling with severe emotional, behavior, and psychiatric problems, including autism-like disorders. And for about half of the 250 students here, undesirable behavior means getting hooked up to a special machine and administered an electric shock.
The skin shock treatment, used only after both a court and the student’s parents have approved, has drawn criticism for years. But after the release of a recent study by Mental Disability Rights International, Rotenberg has come under the scrutiny of no less than the United Nations, which is calling the school’s practices “torture.”
“To be frank, I was shocked when I was reading the report,” said Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture. “What I did, on the 11th of May, was to send an urgent appeal to the U.S. government asking them to investigate.”
RELATED ARTICLE: Sue Clark-Wittenberg, director of the Wittenberg Center to End Electroshock in Ottawa, Canada is an electroshock survivor who is appealing to Amnesty International to deem electroshock (ECT) as torture.