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Offline Omphaloskepsis

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Shocking policies at "torture school"
« on: August 30, 2007, 09:07:45 am »
This is the condensed version found on Boing Boing. Follow the link at the bottom to the full article on Mother Jones. I want to go electrocute the entire staff of this school.  >:(

Torture school subjects children to lethal punishments


Posted by Cory Doctorow, August 30, 2007 6:24 AM

Mother Jones has a long, chilling feature on The Judge Rotenberg Education Center, a private radical behavior-modification school based in Canton, Mass. The school is run by a rogue behaviorist who uses discredited "punishment" techniques -- electroshock -- on children as young as nine to change their personalities. Matthew Israel, the school's $400,000/year executive director, straps homemade, overpowered shock apparatus to children (including severely autistic and retarded kids) and has his staff administer strong shocks for even minor infractions. Some children have been shocked thousands of times a day, and several children have died at the school.


Eight states send troubled children to the school, where "high functioning" kids are "educated" by being sat in front of computers all day, running through automated tutorial programs. Talking, fidgeting, or acting out during this "school" time is punished with shocks. Some kids' shock apparatus misfires, shocking them without any provocation. The staff are instructed to activate the shock apparatus out of sight of the children, so that they can't mentally or physically prepare for it.


The Rotenberg process lacks any kind of scientific basis, and the school uses a 20-year-old film of its "successes" to convince parents to send their children to the program -- however, some of the success stories in the film are still institutionalized at Rotenberg 20 years after their "cure," wheelchair bound and in terrible shape.

Then, in June of 2006, a report produced by the New York State Education Department threatened to destroy the program's carefully cultivated image. A group of investigators, including three psychologists, spent five days at the Rotenberg Center and compiled a 26-page document packed with damning findings.


* Staff shock kids for "nagging, swearing, and failing to maintain a neat appearance" and once threatened to shock a girl who sneezed and then asked for a tissue.

* Some students must "earn" meals by not displaying certain behaviors. Otherwise they are "made to throw a predetermined caloric portion of their food into the garbage."

* When students enter and leave the school each day, "almost all" are wearing some type of restraints, such as handcuffs or leg shackles.

* "Students may be restrained"—on a four-point restraint board or chair—"for extensive periods of time (e.g. hours or intermittently for days)."

* Some students are shocked while strapped to the restraint board.

* A "majority" of employees "serving as classroom teachers" are "not certified teachers."

* Rotenberg's marketing reps bestow presents on prospective families—"e.g. a gift bag for the family, basketball for the student."

* Although the center has described its shock device as "approved" by the fda in its promotional materials, it "has not been approved."

* The facility collects "comprehensive data" on behaviors it seeks to eliminate, but "there was no evidence of the collection of data on replacement or positive behaviors."

* The facility makes no assessment of the "possible collateral effects of punishment such as depression, anxiety, and/or social withdrawal."

Link to Boing Boing:
http://www.boingboing.net/2007/08/30/torture-school-subje.html

Link to Mother Jones:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/09/school_of_shock.html

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is deemed insane and driven out.

Offline Jenkins

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Shocking policies at "torture school"
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2007, 03:14:53 pm »
http://www.boingboing.net/2007/08/30/torture-school-subje.html

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/09/school_of_shock.html

Quote
News: Eight states are sending autistic, mentally retarded, and emotionally troubled kids to a facility that punishes them with painful electric shocks. How many times do you have to zap a child before it's torture?

Quote
Rob Santana awoke terrified. He'd had that dream again, the one where silver wires ran under his shirt and into his pants, connecting to electrodes attached to his limbs and torso. Adults armed with surveillance cameras and remote-control activators watched his every move. One press of a button, and there was no telling where the shock would hit—his arm or leg or, worse, his stomach. All Rob knew was that the pain would be intense.

Quote
The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. Yet the program continues to thrive—in large part because no one except desperate parents, and a few state legislators, seems to care about what happens to the hundreds of kids who pass through its gates.

So they poison your kid's brain with mercury, make him autistic, then you get to send him to this place. It's like torture camp.

Sick. That's all I can say.

Offline Dig

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Edward Kennedy's Torture school subjects children to lethal punishments
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2007, 12:31:22 pm »
School of Shock

NEWS: Eight states are sending autistic, mentally retarded, and emotionally troubled kids to a facility that punishes them with painful electric shocks. How many times do you have to zap a child before it's torture?

Students who receive electric shocks carry the device around in a backpack and wear the electrodes 24 hours a day; some are also monitored at all times by at least one Rotenberg Center employee.

By Jennifer Gonnerman August 20, 2007
________________________________________
Food deprivation. Isolation. Electric shocks. Inside the taxpayer-funded program that treats American kids like enemy combatants.
Nagging? Zap. Swearing? Zap: New York's Investigations of the Rotenberg Center
Why Can't Massachusetts Shut Matthew Israel Down?
The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry
Experts on Self-Injurious Kids Challenge Dr. Israel's Methods
What Works for Troubled Teens?

Photo Essay on the Rotenberg Center
_______________________________
Rob Santana awoke terrified. He'd had that dream again, the one where silver wires ran under his shirt and into his pants, connecting to electrodes attached to his limbs and torso. Adults armed with surveillance cameras and remote-control activators watched his every move. One press of a button, and there was no telling where the shock would hit—his arm or leg or, worse, his stomach. All Rob knew was that the pain would be intense. Every time he woke from this dream, it took him a few moments to remember that he was in his own bed, that there weren't electrodes locked to his skin, that he wasn't about to be shocked. It was no mystery where this recurring nightmare came from—not A Clockwork Orange or 1984, but the years he spent confined in America's most controversial "behavior modification" facility. In 1999, when Rob was 13, his parents sent him to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, located in Canton, Massachusetts, 20 miles outside Boston. The facility, which calls itself a "special needs school," takes in all kinds of troubled kids—severely autistic, mentally retarded, schizophrenic, bipolar, emotionally disturbed—and attempts to change their behavior with a complex system of rewards and punishments, including painful electric shocks to the torso and limbs. Of the 234 current residents, about half are wired to receive shocks, including some as young as nine or ten. Nearly 60 percent come from New York, a quarter from Massachusetts, the rest from six other states and Washington, D.C. The Rotenberg Center, which has 900 employees and annual revenues exceeding $56 million, charges $220,000 a year for each student. States and school districts pick up the tab.

The Rotenberg Center is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Over its 36-year history, six children have died in its care, prompting numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, New York state investigators filed a blistering report that made the place sound like a high school version of Abu Ghraib. Yet the program continues to thrive—in large part because no one except desperate parents, and a few state legislators, seems to care about what happens to the hundreds of kids who pass through its gates. In Rob Santana's case, he freely admits he was an out-of-control kid with "serious behavioral problems." At birth he was abandoned at the hospital, traces of cocaine, heroin, and alcohol in his body. A middle-class couple adopted him out of foster care when he was 11 months old, but his troubles continued. He started fires; he got kicked out of preschool for opening the back door of a moving school bus; when he was six, he cut himself with a razor. His mother took him to specialists, who diagnosed him with a slew of psychiatric problems: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Rob was at the Rotenberg Center for about three and a half years. From the start, he cursed, hollered, fought with employees. Eventually the staff obtained permission from his mother and a Massachusetts probate court to use electric shock. Rob was forced to wear a backpack containing five two-pound, battery-operated devices, each connected to an electrode attached to his skin. "I felt humiliated," he says. "You have a bunch of wires coming out of your shirt and pants." Rob remained hooked up to the apparatus 24 hours a day. He wore it while jogging on the treadmill and playing basketball, though it wasn't easy to sink a jump shot with a 10-pound backpack on. When he showered, a staff member would remove his electrodes, all except the one on his arm, which he had to hold outside the shower to keep it dry. At night, Rob slept with the backpack next to him, under the gaze of a surveillance camera.

Employees shocked him for aggressive behavior, he says, but also for minor misdeeds, like yelling or cursing. Each shock lasts two seconds. "It hurts like hell," Rob says. (The school's staff claim it is no more painful than a bee sting; when I tried the shock, it felt like a horde of wasps attacking me all at once. Two seconds never felt so long.) On several occasions, Rob was tied facedown to a four-point restraint board and shocked over and over again by a person he couldn't see. The constant threat of being zapped did persuade him to act less aggressively, but at a high cost. "I thought of killing myself a few times," he says. Rob's mother Jo-Anne deLeon had sent him to the Rotenberg Center at the suggestion of the special-ed committee at his school district in upstate New York, which, she says, told her that the program had everything Rob needed. She believed he would receive regular psychiatric counseling—though the school does not provide this. As the months passed, Rob's mother became increasingly unhappy. "My whole dispute with them was, 'When is he going to get psychiatric treatment?'" she says. "I think they had to get to the root of his problems—like why was he so angry? Why was he so destructive? I really think they needed to go in his head somehow and figure this out." She didn't think the shocks were helping, and in 2002 she sent a furious fax demanding that Rob's electrodes be removed before she came up for Parents' Day. She says she got a call the next day from the executive director, Matthew Israel, who told her, "You don't want to stick with our treatment plan? Pick him up." (Israel says he doesn't remember this conversation, but adds, "If a parent doesn't want the use of the skin shock and wants psychiatric treatment, this isn't the right program for them.")

Rob's mother is not the only parent angry at the Rotenberg Center. Last year, Evelyn Nicholson sued the facility after her 17-year-old son Antwone was shocked 79 times in 18 months. Nicholson says she decided to take action after Antwone called home and told her, "Mommy, you don't love me anymore because you let them hurt me so bad." Rob and Antwone don't know each other (Rob left the facility before Antwone arrived), but in some ways their stories are similar. Antwone's birth mother was a drug addict; he was burned on an electric hot plate as an infant. Evelyn took him in as a foster child and later adopted him. The lawsuit she filed against the Rotenberg Center set off a chain of events: investigations by multiple government agencies, emotional public hearings, scrutiny by the media. Legislation to restrict or ban the use of electric shocks in such facilities has been introduced in two state legislatures. Yet not much has changed. Rob has paid little attention to the public debate over his alma mater, though he visits its website occasionally to see which of the kids he knew are still there. After he left the center he moved back in with his parents. At first glance, he seems like any other 21-year-old: baggy Rocawear jeans, black T-shirt, powder-blue Nikes. But when asked to recount his years at the Rotenberg Center, he speaks for nearly two hours in astonishing detail, recalling names and specific events from seven or eight years earlier. When he describes his recurring nightmares, he raises both arms and rubs his forehead with his palms. Despite spending more than three years at this behavior-modification facility, Rob still has problems controlling his behavior. In 2005, he was arrested for attempted assault and sent to jail. (This year he was arrested again, for drugs and assault.) Being locked up has given him plenty of time to reflect on his childhood, and he has gained a new perspective on the Rotenberg Center. "It's worse than jail," he told me. "That place is the worst place on earth."

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline NEPB

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Re: Edward Kennedy's Torture school subjects children to lethal punishments
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2007, 12:50:36 pm »
I'm not that spiritual, but my soul cries for these children. If that isn't isn't one of the sickest forms of torture and mind control i've ever heard of. Damn eugenic idiology.

Offline BOMANI

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Shock Treatment May Continue At Special Education School
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2007, 05:00:31 pm »
Shock Treatment May Continue At Special Education School
23 Dec 2007

A special education school which has been in the news for inappropriate use of electric shock treatment has been allowed to continue using shock treatment for the most dangerous and self-destructive behaviors. In such cases the shock treatment must lead to a diminution in the undesirable actions. The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) has to prove that these treatments really work.

The one-year reauthorization contrasts with previous ones which lasted two years each time.

Electric shock treatment at the center must never be used for petty infractions, such as leaving one's seat without getting permission or using offensive language. The school has been ordered to show that it is committed to phasing out this type of aversion therapy. This phasing out must be especially so for students who are on the verge of leaving and about to enter the community.

In August 2007 three adolescents were given several electric shocks after a former resident called pretending to be a supervisor. The residents in question were asleep at the time, the caller told staff to wake them up and give them dozens of shocks with restraints in response to behavior that had allegedly taken place over five ours beforehand. A series of phone calls with instructions were made by the former resident between 2am and 4.45am. Although the JRC claims the victims were evaluated by JRC nursing staff, JRC's doctor, as well as the victim's treating clinical Doctor, and found to be in good health, one victim was further examined at a hospital and was reported to have two areas of first degree burns related to the presence of the GED.

The center pledges not to utilize delayed punishments. It also says it will not punish children who are asleep with electric shocks.

Many are surprised the school was not ordered to end shock treatment straight away.

The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is a special needs school in Canton, Massachusetts serving both high-functioning students with conduct, behavior, emotional, and/or psychiatric problems and low-functioning students with autistic-like behaviors.

-- DEEC findings on JRC abuse allegations
-- See the full report from the Department of Early Education and Care (PDF 1.84MB)

Offline Dig

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Re: Shocking policies at "torture school"
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2007, 05:18:04 pm »

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he’d support doubling the size of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, he was trying to show voters that he’d be tough on terror. Two of his top fundraisers, however, have long supported using tactics that have been likened to torture for troubled teenagers.

As The Hill noted last week, 133 plaintiffs filed a civil suit against Romney’s Utah finance co-chair, Robert Lichfield, and his various business entities involved in residential treatment programs for adolescents. The umbrella group for his organization is the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS, sometimes known as WWASP) and Lichfield is its founder and is on its board of directors.

The suit alleges that teens were locked in outdoor dog cages, exercised to exhaustion, deprived of food and sleep, exposed to extreme temperatures without adequate clothing or water, severely beaten, emotionally brutalized, and sexually abused and humiliated. Some were even made to eat their own vomit.

But the link to teen abuse goes far higher up in the Romney campaign. Romney’s national finance co-chair is a man named Mel Sembler. A long time friend of the Bushes, Sembler was campaign finance chair for the Republican party during the first election of George W. Bush, and a major fundraiser for his father.

Like Lichfield, Sembler also founded a nationwide network of treatment programs for troubled youth. Known as Straight Inc., from 1976 to 1993, it variously operated nine programs in seven states. At all of Straight’s facilities, state investigators and/or civil lawsuits documented scores of abuses including teens being beaten, deprived of food and sleep for days, restrained by fellow youth for hours, bound, sexually humiliated, abused and spat upon.

According to the L.A. Times, California investigators said that at Straight teens were “subjected to unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse… and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting.”

Through a spokesperson, Lichfield has dismissed the similar charges against WWASPS to The Hill as “ludicrous,” claiming that the teens who sued “have a long history of lying, fabricating and twisting the story around to their own benefit.”

Straight would use virtually identical language in its denials: In the 1990 L.A. Times article cited above, a Straight counselor downplayed the California investigators’ report by saying, “Some kids get very upset and lie and some parents believe them.” Both Straight and WWASPS have repeatedly called their teen participants “liars” and “manipulators” who oppose the programs because they want to continue taking drugs or engage in other bad behavior.

Curiously, however, both programs regularly admitted teens who did not actually have serious problems. In 1982, 18-year-old Fred Collins, a Virginia Tech student with excellent grades, went to visit his brother, who was in treatment for a drug problem at Straight in Orlando, Florida.

A counselor determined that he was high on marijuana because his eyes were red (this would later turn out to have been due to swimming in a pool with contacts on). He did admit to occasional marijuana use, but insisted he was not high at the time, nor was he an addict. Nonetheless, he was barraged with hours of humiliating questions, strip-searched, and held against his will for months until he managed to escape.

He won $220,000 in a lawsuit he filed against the program for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery. Ultimately, Straight would pay out millions in settlements before it finally closed. However, to this day, there are at least eight programs operating that use Straight’s methods, often in former Straight buildings operated by former Straight staff. They include: Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (Canada), Pathway Family Center (Michigan, Indiana, Ohio), Growing Together (Florida), Possibilities Unlimited (Kentucky), SAFE (Florida), and Phoenix Institute for Adolescents (Georgia).

Sembler has never admitted to the problems with Straight's methods. In fact, when he recently served as Ambassador to Italy, he listed it among his accomplishments on his official State Department profile. Although all of the programs with the Straight name are closed, the nonprofit Straight Foundation that funded them still exists, though under a different name. It's now called the Drug Free America Foundation, and it lobbies for drug testing and in support of tougher policies in the war on drugs.

One of the plaintiffs in the current case against WWASPS, 21-year-old Chelsea Filer, spoke to me when I was researching a TV segment on the industry. She told me that she was forced to walk for miles on a track in scorching desert heat with a 35-pound sandbag on her back. “You were not allowed to scratch your face, move your fingers, lick your lips, move your eyes from the ground,” she said. When she asked for a chapstick, “They put a piece of wood in my mouth and I had to hold it there for two weeks. I was bleeding on my tongue.”

Why was Filer subject to such punishment? “I had less interest in school and more interest in boys and my mom was worried about me,” she says, explaining that her mother believed that the program was nothing more than a strict boarding school.

Because she has attention deficit disorder, Filer was unable to consistently follow the exacting rules, and repeated small violations were seen as ongoing defiance. “It broke my heart that my mom had no belief in me,” she says, describing how, because WWASPS had told her mother to dismiss complaints as “manipulation,” her mother ignored her pleas to come home.

“I’m not a bad kid,” she continued, “I never used drugs, I was never in trouble, I have no criminal record. I know my mom was worried about me—but so many times I told her that this is too much. I would gladly have gone to prison instead.”

WWASPS is linked with facilities Academy at Ivy Ridge (New York), Carolina Springs Academy (South Carolina), Cross Creek Programs (Utah), Darrington Academy (Georgia), Horizon Academy (Nevada), Majestic Ranch Academy (Utah), MidWest Academy (Iowa), Respect Camp (Mississippi), Royal Gorge Academy (Colorado), Spring Creek Lodge (Montana), and Tranquility Bay (Jamaica).

Although it has settled several lawsuits out of court, the organization has never publicly admitted wrong-doing. However, the U.S. State Department spurred Samoa to investigate its Paradise Cove program in 1998 after receiving “credible allegations of physical abuse,” including “beatings, isolation, food and water deprivation, choke-holds, kicking, punching, bondage, spraying with chemical agents, forced medication, verbal abuse and threats of further physical abuse.” Paradise Cove closed shortly thereafter. That same year, the Czech Republic forced the closure of WWASP-linked Morava Academy following employees’ allegations that teens were being abused.

The former director of the Dundee Ranch Academy Program in Costa Rica went to local authorities after seeing medical neglect and other severe abuse, although human rights abuse charges were ultimately dropped against the owner, Robert Lichfield’s brother Narvin. That program closed in 2003.

Police in Mexico have shut down three WWASP-linked facilities: Sunrise Beach (1996), Casa By The Sea (2004) and High Impact (where police videotaped the teens chained in dog cages).

In 2005, New York’s Eliot Spitzer forced WWASP to return over $1 million to the parents of Academy at Ivy Ridge students, because the school had fraudulently claimed to provide legitimate New York high school diplomas. He fined Ivy Ridge $250,000, plus $2000 in court costs. A civil suit has been filed for educational fraud in New York as well, by a different law firm.

Straight's Sembler currently heads the Scooter Libby Defense Fund, in addition to his work for Romney, and has worked tirelessly to keep the Vice President's former Chief of Staff out of prison, even after his conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. After all, if running programs that impose these kinds of "treatments" on American teenagers is not a prison-worthy offense, why should lying to a court be?

The Romney campaign is aware of the WWASP suits, and should be familiar with the Straight suits. If not, it's worth asking: Does Romney support these types of tactics for at-risk youth? Or does he take the line the organizations founded by his fundraisers take—that these dozens of lawsuits are merely from bad kids who make up lies?

Coming from the man who wants to double the size of Guantanamo, these aren't insignificant questions. If Romney doesn't believe the aggressive tactics he supports for use against enemy combatants ought to be used against troubled teens and youth drug users, he should say so, and show he means it by removing these men from his campaign.

Maia Szalavitz is author of Help At Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids (Riverhead, 2006) and a senior fellow at www.stats.org. Her latest book, co-written with Dr. Bruce D. Perry is The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook. (Basic Books, 2007).
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Dig

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Re: Shocking policies at "torture school"
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2007, 05:20:08 pm »
Beyond the Dutroux Affair
The reality of protected child abuse and snuff networks
the victim-witnesses | the investigators | the accused | the apparently assassinated
http://www.pehi.eu/dutroux/Belgian_X_dossiers_of_the_Dutroux_affair.htm
Warning: The information in this article is not suited for anyone below the age of 18, as it involves extreme sexual violence against children. A certain amount of normally-illegal visual evidence (it is censored) has been included.
Belgium's biggest secret.

"What you have to understand, John, is that sometimes there are forces and events too big, too powerful, with so much at stake for other people or institutions, that you cannot do anything about them, no matter how evil or wrong they are and no matter how dedicated or sincere you are or how much evidence you have. This is simply one of the hard facts of life you have to face."

Much more, follow the link: http://www.pehi.eu/dutroux/Belgian_X_dossiers_of_the_Dutroux_affair.htm
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline industria

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Re: Shocking policies at "torture school"
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2008, 08:40:48 pm »
School Gets Extension on Shock Treatment
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20071222/shock-treatments-prank/

 December 22, 2007 11:21 PM EST | AP

BOSTON — A special education school where two emotionally disturbed students were wrongly given dozens of shocks after a prank call will be allowed to use electric shock treatments on students for another year.

But the state's Office of Health and Human Services said the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center must prove it uses shock treatments only for the most dangerous and self-destructive behaviors, and also show that the treatments reduce those behaviors.

On Aug. 26, someone posing as a supervisor called in shock treatments on two students, aged 16 and 19. The teens were awakened in the middle of the night and given the shock treatments, at times while their legs and arms were bound. One teen received 77 shocks and the other received 29. One was treated for two first-degree burns.

A state report found that staff made multiple mistakes when they followed the prank caller's directions.

The report by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care said six staffers at a Stoughton residence run by the Canton-based school had reason to doubt the orders to administer the shocks, but did nothing to stop it.

The six staff members and video surveillance worker on duty that night were fired on Oct. 1.

The caller said he was ordering the punishments because the teens had misbehaved earlier in the evening. But none of the staffers had witnessed any problems. The report said the caller was a former resident of the center with knowledge of its operations. Police are looking into filing criminal charges.

The incident in Stoughton renewed calls by school critics for the state to ban the shock treatments. But state officials said the parents of some residents defend the school and its methods.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - MLK

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