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Judge: Electroshock therapy is ‘accepted standard of care’ at Massachusetts private school

Electroshock therapy will continue at the only school in the United States that allows the controversial practice, thanks to a recent court ruling.

Say what?

The Judge Rotenberg Centre in Canton, Massachusetts, is a private special needs school that has operated since 1971. JRC’s website says that its “specific goal is to provide each individual with the least intrusive, most effective form of treatment to ensure his/her safety.”
But the school’s use of electroshock therapy as part of treatment for some students became a public controversy after a parent sued JRC in 2012. Cheryl McCollins won a suit against the school after a video was released showing disturbing footage of her disabled teenager, Andre McCollin, being restrained and zapped for hours by instructors.
When the school’s use of electroshock therapy was publicly exposed, it drew international attention. The United Nations even urged the U.S. government to investigate.
Following public outrage, the Massachusetts governor’s office sued to stop the practice of electroshock therapy in 2013. But in early July, Judge Katherine Fields determined that the state of Massachusetts failed to demonstrate that the technique “does not conform to the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with intellectual disabilities.”
Also referred to as electroconvulsive therapy, the method has been used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, epilepsy, and many other ailments in what’s being called a reemergence of the practice in recent years.

Anything else?

JRC contends that it made drastic changes in its procedures after the 2012 lawsuit and defended the continued use of electroshock therapy.
In a statement, JRC said, “This treatment, which feels like a hard pinch, has been extensively validated in the scientific literature … is extremely effective, and has no significant adverse side effects.”
While groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and disabilities rights organizations, have protested to outlaw the practice, some parents of JRC students have defended the method, saying it helped their children. And the school points to the fact that it used alternative treatments to avoid or minimize the use of psychotropic medication on kids.
Tuition for each student at JRC is $220,000 annually, which is paid by the states and school districts where they reside. Since 2007, six students from the center have died from aversive therapies, according to the Daily Mail.
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