LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Whether or not they are efficient, aversive shocks are immoral and must be stopped at all cost
To the Editor: I would first like to thank Matthew Israel for taking interest in our group ("Center's treatment saves lives of youth," Oct. 9 issue). It is encouraging to know that word is getting out about our cause!
Let me get to the point: No matter how much evidence I am presented with regard to the legitimacy of aversive therapy, whether psychological or legal, I still cannot-from a purely moral and ethical standpoint-support the use of aversive treatments. Would you allow a parent to beat a child, whatever positive benefits they may claim? Why is it okay for parents to allow pain to be inflicted, but not for them to do it themselves? This legal double-standard is appalling to me.
More important than the temporary behavior of these kids is their long-term ability to function in society. At the Center, some students remain wired to the Graduated Electronic Decelerator into adulthood. This contradicts your claim that aversive treatment allows disabled people an independent lifestyle. I am even more disturbed by the concept of the GED-4. Some students become immune to the pain of the GED and revert to former behaviors, and are then attached to a more painful device. Progressing from one shock device to another is not the independent lifestyle that an educational center should works towards.
Lastly, we are not alone in our dissent. Disability rights associations across the country oppose aversive treatments at the Judge Rotenberg Center. There is movement in the Massachusetts statehouse to outlaw extreme forms of punishment, such as H109, sponsored by Barbara L'Italien. New York attorney Ken Mollins is representing plaintiffs in four lawsuits involving your center, and adamantly opposes aversive treatments. Students at Brandeis are horrified by practices at the JRC, and are now mobilizing. The center is quickly becoming quite politically unpopular, and so will politicians who support it.
-Liza Behrendt '11
The writer is a member of Brandeis students against the Judge Rotenberg Center