What happens when the media uncovers news of emaciated, suffocating puppies in trucks on their way to a pet store? Or abused kittens in a neglectful owner’s basement? Or farm animals who have been beaten and left to starve? We collectively shudder, demand answers, call our elected officials, and set the wheels of change in motion. Our country’s defenders of animals are a powerful voice for the furry, the feathered, and the scaled. That’s a good thing.
Sadly, here in the most developed country in the world, we cannot defend the right of humans with disabilities to be free from the same kinds of abuse.
We read on their website that the Massachusetts taxpayer-supported Rotenberg Center offers “a Powerful and Varied Reward Program” with pay, free time, and entertainment for whatever the center deems as “acceptable” behavior for their students. What they’re not showing is that their “stick” of punishment (the shocks delivered to clients’ bodies through devices on their legs) is exponentially more damaging than the “carrot” of reward.
This treatment is more than wrong. It’s criminal.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that when you consistently put people in physical peril, they don’t thrive – they shrink. They become emotionally damaged. This happens to prisoners of war who are lucky enough to survive the hell of captivity and torture.
Now think about applying negative (shock) stimulus to people with intellectual disabilities. While the intent may be to correct behavior over time, it’s a twisted misapplication of Pavlov’s Conditioned Response experiments conducted on dogs. I have some issues with that as well- another day.
It’s bad enough when people without intellectual disabilities suffer torture. But if you don’t comprehend why you are constantly shocked in the first place, it’s even worse. If Pavlov’s experiments were conducted on dogs today, there would be universal outrage. I would be first in line with my fury. Where is the anger when similar behavioral modification methods are applied to humans who don’t understand and can’t escape it?