Protesters demand end to controversial shock therapy used on children

CANTON, Mass. - A small group of advocates from "Mass Adapt" are protesting outside the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton against shock therapy being used on disabled children.

Members of "Mass Adapt," a grassroots organization that fights for disability rights, began protesting in front of the JRC around noon on Monday and said they won't back down until shock therapy is outlawed at the school.

"They have electrical devices that pack a stronger punch than a policeman's taser and they're using them on several disabled children," said Nancy Houghton, of Mass Adapt.

Protesters are demanding the federal government approves new rules banning the controversial shock therapy at  the Canton school.

The JRC is the only school in the country that shocks students with electricity, a practice called aversive therapy, where jolts of electricity are given to disabled students to prevent them from engaging in harmful behavior.

Marie Washington, the President of the Judge Rotenburg Center Parents and Friends Association released the following statement to Boston 25 News today, saying:

"Our children are part of a very small population of people suffering with life-threatening self-abusive and aggressive behaviors, they do not respond to drugs or any of the other typical treatments and need to have aversive interventions available to stop them from maiming and killing themselves. The decision to use aversives is a very difficult one that each of us makes for our individual child after all other options have failed. Most students at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) do not receive aversive therapy. It is only pursued as a last resort and it can only be used pursuant to a Court order from a Massachusetts Probate Court Judge on an individualized basis. The appropriateness of this treatment should be left to those of us who know and love our children. The Center, the parents of those who attend JRC, the licensed clinicians working at JRC, along with many other experts, have sent to the FDA volumes of treatment evidence demonstrating that the GED skin shock treatment is very safe and effective in stopping clients from maiming themselves and hurting others.  We are grateful that the FDA is taking the time to carefully review this large volume of information before making any decisions"

Protestors say they will likely stand outside the school again until aversive therapy is outlawed at the JRC.

"We're letting the Judge Rotenburg Center know that we're still here, we're still angry about this and we're not going to accept it lying down," said Olivia Richard, a member of Mass Adapt.