A Massachusetts school for special needs students uses a controversial method for trying to control the children's behavior. They administer electric shocks. The number of shocks and the reason for using the device is at the discretion of the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) staff.
JRC has students 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."
One graphic video, that school officials didn't want the public to see, shows Cheryl McCollins' autistic son Andre receiving 31 electric shocks in a seven hour timeframe. McCollins was distraught about the treatment and wants JRC shut down.
Other parents and school officials stand by the "aversive therapy." Marie Washington told Anderson that JRC saved her son's life by treating him without the need for medications.
Anderson spoke with state Senator Brian Joyce who has been fighting to close the school and end the shock treatments. "This is based largely on a discredited pseudo-science from 70 or 80 years ago...it is truly a barbaric practice, " he said.
This is part of a statement JRC gave to CNN today:
“Senator Joyce is once again making false statements when faced with compelling evidence of the efficacy of aversive procedures. The “army” of people “descending” on the Massachusetts State House that he refers to are not “lobbyists and lawyers.” They are dozens of parents of JRC students who visit the State House to inform the legislators about how aversive therapy saved their child’s life when no other treatment would work. Senator Joyce refuses to meet with these parents and makes false statements about who is seeking protection for this treatment because this information contradicts his political agenda. Senator Joyce has never visited JRC and tried to learn about the school, the treatment, and the people that depend on the treatment to keep them safe from permanent physical injury or death.”
Senator Joyce will be on the program tonight to respond.
Anderson will also tell you about developments in the investigation and new information about an upcoming U.S. Senate hearing related to JRC.
Plus, Tom Foreman is looking into the FDA's report on the shock device. They won't release it or grant an interview. Tune in at 8 and 10pm ET and let us know what you think on Twitter @AC360.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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