Yes, It Really Is Legal to Electrically Shock Disabled Children in The US as Punishment #StopTheShock

Yes, It Really Is Legal to Electrically Shock Disabled Children in The US as Punishment #StopTheShock

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about –
Great! You’re the person who I want to talk to, who I think can help!

[To clarify, this has nothing to do with electroshock therapy (ECT) that is sometimes used for treating mental illnesses. It’s a completely separate issue. The GED is a device that is used on an awake disabled child or adult as punishment for behavior. They are using behavioral modification (ABA therapy) in conjunction with shocks. Click here to learn more about behavioral modification.]

What Happened

The GED is a Graduated Electronic Decelerator device that has been and is currently being used to electrically shock developmentally disabled and intellectually disabled people at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton Massachusetts. It is now legal to do so.

The FDA’s ban on the GED device was overruled on July 6th, 2021 by the D.C. Circuit Court due to only banning the device for a specific purpose (behavior modification), instead of banning the device completely. If the FDA had banned the device completely, it likely would not have been overruled because it would not have been in conflict with section 396.

Graduated Electronic Decelerator devices – What Are They?

The original GED device, called the GED-1  was created by Matthew Israel in the 1990s, based on Ivar Lovaas’s electric shocking “therapy” of disabled children. The newer devices that are currently used at the Judge Rotenberg Center, the GED-3a and GED-4, are still not currently approved by the FDA, and hurt even more than the original (yes, that was the purpose of them, to hurt more). They are 10-pound backpacks that the disabled people carry on them 24/7, and even wear these electric shock devices while bathing and showering, which has caused 2nd-degree skin burns. (They have used the term “GED Holiday” for people who have had these burns on their skin, to stop wearing the GED so that their skin heals enough to wear them again to be shocked again.)

Court Decision Just Overruled the Ban on GEDs – July 6th, 2021

In 2000, the FDA made an error with these devices, and gave these new GED devices an exemption from having to go through the approval process. The FDA did not notice this error until 2011. Even when the FDA notified the Judge Rotenberg Center about this in 2012, the JRC continued to ignore the FDA about this.

The JRC has approval from both New York and Illinois to take people from those states. It is also approved by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services which approves the aversives that are used at the JRC, which I am assuming includes the GED device in that.

The JRC is paid with tax-payer money, through the public school system, and through the state of Massachusetts.

In 2006, there was a report by the New York Department of Education about the Judge Rotenberg Center which documents numerous violations and human rights injustices.

If you don’t need to hear more about this to do something,
skip down to How To Do Something About It

Things the staff at JRC have shocked disabled people for:

  • Stimming
  • Rocking
  • Moaning from being in pain (had a broken tooth)
  • Screaming after being shocked (so they get shocked again)
  • Tearing up a styrofoam cup
  • Not taking off a coat
  • Standing up
  • Not staying on task for 10 seconds
  • Not havinge a “neat appearance.”

The JRC is classified as a “school” and a report from the Massachusetts Department of Education in 2006 said that most students are simply being taught through a computer screen with a computer program, and there is no explanation for how this program relates to general education curriculum.

In 2012, the report on the Judge Rotenberg Center by the Massachusetts Department of Education never even interviewed any of the students at JRC.
According to the 2012 report, the JRC is not required to have a written policy on the use of physical restraint because they are a residential program. 

The Center argues that the shocks are “more effective” than restraints or drugs (as if shocking and torturing disabled people is somehow better) – From this interview, April 28th 2021 (TW abuse, gaslighting) – “Restraints didn’t work, drugs didn’t work”

One of the students there was moaning because she had a broken tooth, and they shocked her for moaning (i.e. moaning from being in pain).

It is unconscionable to go about your day without doing something about this.

It is unconscionable to think that because shocking disabled children is “effective” that it is okay in any way, or somehow helping them. (If “it’s effective” makes it okay, then why aren’t we shocking neurotypical children in school everytime they talk out of turn, or when they don’t stay in a single file line? Oh yea, because that’s abuse. But it doesn’t count as abuse for disabled people. Because they don’t see disabled people as human beings.)

It is unconscionable not to take action.

This blog post is not and will not be polished because what’s happening right now is too important. This is not okay.

People need to know about this. People need to know that this is not okay. People need to Do Something About It.

How To Do Something About It: Use This Google Doc

If you are in the US,
Please Walk Through This Google Document
to email letter templates and sign petitions.
(If you’re not in the US, please spread the word and email people who are not US representatives, listed in the google doc, to get the word out)

It takes actually 2 minutes to send a letter through ASAN’s website to your representatives (link is in the google doc). You can also tweet with the #StopTheShock hashtag to get people aware of this.

If you live in Massachusetts, please add in your letter that you support bill H.225 which would “prohibit the use of procedures which cause physical pain or deny a reasonable humane existence to persons with disabilities.” This bill could be a way to stop the use of the GED device.

If you are a credentialed professional
in medicine, psychology, mental health –
If you are a social worker, teacher, occupational therapist, speech therapist, music or art therapist, if you work with disabled people in any capacity –

Please write statements to the institutions who license you. Please write a statement condemning the Judge Rotenberg Center and condemning electric shocks – they are torture, not a “treatment,” for being disabled.
Please get your colleagues to sign these statements so it has more weight.
This is not ethical and should not be allowed to be called a “treatment.”

#StopTheShock – We Need Abled People’s Help

If you need/want more information about the Judge Rotenberg Center and the GED shock devices, follow the #StopTheShock hashtag on twitter, facebook, instagram, and any other social media.

Please get the word out about this. Please tell people. Please post online, call your representatives, do anything you can. So many disabled people have been disheartened in the last 4 days due to the complete lack of coverage about this issue. I’ve had people on twitter actually thinking I was joking when I’ve said the JRC are shocking disabled people in the US. People can’t even fathom it.

This isn’t science fiction

This isn’t some fantasy game.

This isn’t historical.

This is happening NOW.

Please, do something about it.

The Judge Rotenberg Center has been shocking disabled children and adults since 1989.

They’ve been doing this for 32 years.

Please help #StopTheShock . This isn’t okay.

13 thoughts on “Yes, It Really Is Legal to Electrically Shock Disabled Children in The US as Punishment #StopTheShock

  1. I’m contacting my senator and rep about this now because it’s horrible. However, I am a professional dog trainer. It is completely legal to shock pets, FYI. It is legal to do a lot of awful things to dogs, cats, and other animals, including using shock collars. I don’t use them, and I don’t support their use. But many, many dog trainers make their living every day by shocking dogs. If you google “GED for dogs,” you’ll see what I mean. It will make your argument stronger if there are not factual inaccuracies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To clarify – it would be illegal to use the GED-4 device on your dog. The GED-4 is specifically manufactured for humans and has caused 2nd and 3rd degree burns. So yes I do think this particular device being used on a dog would be illegal.

      I’m talking about the Graduated Electronic Decelerator specifically (which is why it is in the title).


      1. OK, I understand. I do think it’s misleading, nonetheless. I have worked with dogs who have been shocked so much that they are bleeding from holes in their necks.
        FYI, I got a good response from Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa. She replied to my email: “Thank you very much for flagging this bill, Sharon. I cannot believe that we would do such a thing and am happy to cosponsor the bill.
        Thank you for reaching out and I look forward to making this practice illegal.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. For more information –

      Liked by 2 people

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