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School Wins Appeal To Use Electric Shock Devices On Pupils To 'Correct' Behaviour

Dominic Smithers

| Last updated 

School Wins Appeal To Use Electric Shock Devices On Pupils To 'Correct' Behaviour

A school has won a court battle, allowing it to use electric shock devices on students.

The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Massachusetts, US, reportedly introduced the controversial practice to deal with aggressive or self-harming behaviour in adults and children.

The US Food and Drug Administration had previously banned the use of such devices, however, a 2-1 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit saw the ban overturned.

According to the school's website, it caters for 'both emotionally disturbed students with conduct, behaviour, emotional, and/or psychiatric problems, as well as those with intellectual disabilities or on the autism spectrum'.

Parents and guardians of pupils, as well as the school itself, are said to be pleased with the ruling.

Speaking to Reuters, Michael Flammia from law firm Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott said: "With the treatment, these residents can continue to participate in enriching experiences, enjoy visits with their families and, most importantly, live in safety and freedom from self-injurious and aggressive behaviours."

The school won its appeal to have the ban overturned. Credit: Google Earth
The school won its appeal to have the ban overturned. Credit: Google Earth

A statement from the parents read: "We have and will continue to fight to keep our loved ones safe and alive and to retain access to this life saving treatment of last resort."

Senior Circuit Judge David Sentelles, who wrote for the majority, said 'use-specific' bans such as this are not appropriate.

"The FDA has no authority to choose what medical devices a practitioner should prescribe or administer or for which conditions," he wrote.

According to reports, there are around 300 students at the Judge Rotenberg Center, with 55 of these pupils approved for the Graduated Electronic Decelerator shock devices.

The devices work remotely, administering a powerful shock to the wearer's skin and are reportedly worn 24 hours a day.

The school is the only one in the US to use shock devices on their pupils.

The FDA implemented the ban in March of this year, with the decision based on the fact that the body has the power to take unreasonably dangerous devices off the market.

However, in April, the school argued that it was vital for students who didn't respond to any other kind of treatment.

The practice has been branded 'torture' in the past. Credit: NBC
The practice has been branded 'torture' in the past. Credit: NBC

This is not the first time the school has been in the news for the use of these devices.

Back in 2010, a human rights lawyer branded the practice 'torture'.

Reacting to a study by study by Mental Disability Rights International (DRI), Manfred Nowak, then the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture told ABC News: "To be frank, I was shocked when I was reading the report.

"What I did, on the 11th of May, was to send an urgent appeal to the U.S. government asking them to investigate."

This take was backed by the DRI's president, Laurie Ahern, who told The Guardian: "The idea of using electric shocks to torture children has been recognised as unconscionable around the world."

However, Matthew Israel, who designed the treatment, said previously that it was an important tool.

He said: "The real torture is what these children are subjected to if they don't have this programme.

"They're drugged up to the gills with drugs that cause them to be so sedated that they essentially sleep all day."

Featured Image Credit: NBC

Topics: Students, Judge, Parents, US News, Technology, court

Dominic Smithers
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