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Education Board Bans Aversive Therapies -- Starting 30 Months From Now
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 18, 2007

ALBANY, NEW YORK--On January 8, the New York State Board of Regents, which oversees public education, banned the use of aversive treatments of students in New York schools and schools outside the state that accept New York students.

The ban does not go into effective, however, until nearly 30 months from now.

The Board started an emergency ban last June in response to news reports that dozens of New York students who had been sent to the Judge Rotenberg Education Center in Canton, Massachusetts were being subjected to harsh punishments such as electric skin shocks, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, and noxious sprays for such behaviors as "nagging", "failure to maintain a neat appearance", "interrupting others", and "slouching in chair".

New York contracts with the Rotenberg Center to house and educate about 150 youths, most of which have intellectual and physical disabilities or mental illnesses.

According to the Journal News, the regents voted to allow aversive treatment to continue until June 30, 2009. Those who, as of that date, are already subjected to such treatment to modify their behavior could be 'grandfathered in' to continue experiencing the unpleasant treatment past that date. Only positive methods could be used for new students or those who were receiving aversive treatment before July 1, 2009.

Last fall, a federal judge ordered JRC to continue using skin shocks as punishment for 46 New York students whose parents sued to overturn the state's emergency ban. The parents claimed that the electric jolts, which are described as being similar to bee stings, are the only techniques that have helped their children keep from hurting themselves or others.

Disability rights advocates and parents such as Evelyn Nicholson consider the skin shocks 'barbaric'. Nicholson sued her local school district for sending her son, who has learning disabilities, to JRC. She alleged that the institution's aversive therapy caused Antwone emotional trauma and fear, amounting to corporal punishment, which is banned in New York and at least 26 other states.

"New York Bans Controversial Treatment" (Village Voice)
"Shock therapy for kids to be phased out" with video clip (WNYT-TV)
"Judge Rotenberg Center -- Facility Uses Electric Shock To Change Behavior" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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