Can zapping emotionally challenged children with painful electrical shocks - like cattle - actually help them? The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Massachusetts claims it does. But as Anderson Cooper reported last week, there’s a new push to close the school.
The renewed effort to shutdown JRC comes after a graphic video surfaced that school officials didn't want the public to see. The video shows Cheryl McCollins' son, Andre, receiving 31 electric shocks from school staff in a seven hour period. His family’s attorney says he was later treated for post traumatic stress disorder.
However, another mother, Marie Washington, said JRC saved her son's life by using the shocks to treat him, instead of medications. Washington calls the program a "godsend."
JRC is a special needs school for children as young as 3-years-old. Their website says they've provided "very effective education and treatment to both emotionally disturbed students with conduct, behavior, emotional, and/or psychiatric problems and developmentally delayed students with autistic-like behaviors."
Critics disapprove of the method used by the school to change students' behavior. JRC calls the shocks "aversive therapy," opponents call it torture. They invented the device used to administer the shocks, and they're the only school using the technique.
Tonight, Anderson explores the medical research behind the shock therapy. He'll speak with one of the top autism researchers in the country, Kevin Pelphrey, who’s the Director of Yale’s Child Neuroscience Laboratory, and Nathan Blenkush, Director of Research at JRC, who has worked at the school since 2006. Tune in to AC360 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
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