Would You Give Electric Shocks To Your Child?
I'm asking because while most of the so-called civilized world would react in horror at the mere suggestion of torturing children to alter their behaviour, this is exactly what's discussed by the State Education Department at the University of New York, right now. The issue at hand is whether or not to allow aversion therapy to alter or hinder unwanted behaviour in children, especially in disabled children. Sounds abstract? Uncivilized? Let me give you an example.
Autistic individuals sometimes display seemingly involuntary body movement such as arm flapping, rocking, or tics of various kinds. They call this stimming and while such behaviour can certainly appear bizarre to "normal" people, it is actually a sensory coping mechanism and allows autistics to deal with outside stimuli and reduce overall stress. The fact that stimming works is well documented in autism research.
Adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome can often avoid stimming noticeably in public, knowing fully well that NTs (Neurologically Typical, in other words normal people; a term coined by autistics on the Internet) have difficulty accepting such deviant behaviour. Autistic children, however, often don't realize this and happily stim whenever they need to.
But, as I said, many "normal" people consider stimming deviant behaviour; some even think it should be forbidden.
Which brings us to Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, MA, an educational facility where aversion therapy is used. They use a Graduated Electronic Decelerator or "GED", a device of their own design, to regulate the students' behaviour. The GED is basically a zap box complete with two remote electrodes to be attached on the hapless student, up to six inches apart to increase the "therapeutic value". Every time a student displays unwanted behaviour (stims are the prime time example here, but talking without permission is perhaps easier for most readers to relate to), the educator pushes a button and shocks the student.
Now, unless your children have special needs and must be educated outside the public school system, they are safe. You see, the Judge Rotenberg Center is a special needs facility, serving "both higher-funtioning students with conduct, behavior, emotional, and/or psychiatric problems and lower-functioning students with autistic-like behaviors". Also, it is privately held, and here's the key: aversion therapy is not approved for use in public educational facilities.
I ask again: would you give electric shocks to your child?