When dealing with students with severe mental disabilities, it is crucial to ensure their safety and protect them from self-harm. This was the purpose of shock therapy introduced into practice in the Rotenberg Centre (Young R., & McMahon S., 2021). However, as practice and a recent incident with tortured students have shown, the risks associated with this kind of aversion therapy include not only misuse of shocks but also a progression of the disease.
The viral video of the incident shows terrible footage showing how a student to whom the shock was applied is suffering because he did not want to take off his coat. The boy can be seen pleading with the Center’s workers to stop and say he is in pain (Young R., & McMahon S., 2021). Thus, the administration’s actions should be recognized as extreme physical abuse and torture, which led to dire consequences.
Furthermore, many people with psychological disorders are unable to communicate their pain. Because of this, there is a high likelihood of traumatizing the student without even realizing the suffering that is being brought (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2019). It turns out that the line where the use of shock is appropriate cannot be obvious. Even if assumed that the list of “unwanted” behavior can be restricted only to prevent evident cases of self-injury, potential additional psychological trauma cannot be avoided.
Finally, alternative methods exist to help keep people with mental disabilities safe. These could be positive behavioral support which includes good behavior reward programs. In the case of suicidal tendencies, the administration should reassure patients more humanely – medically or psychologically (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2019). Many mental illnesses are poorly understood, and human rights should not be taken away from people who seem weak-willed.
Young R., & McMahon S. (2021). Disability advocates fight to rule allowing electric shock treatment back in mass. Residential school. WBUR. Web.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019). FDA takes rare steps to ban electrical stimulation devices for self-injurious or aggressive behavior [News release]. Web.