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The FDA Bans School Electric Shock Devices. Also, What?

It's a national ban, but targeting one school that still uses them.

In a surprising move, the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) announced that they are putting a nationwide ban against the use of electric shock devices to correct aggressive behavior or self-harming in kids at school. Surprising because how was this not already banned? The nationwide ban is aimed at one U.S. school that uses these shock devices on their students.

According to the New York Times, the F.D.A. has issued a ban against using electric shock devices. Still, it only targets the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center school in Canton, Massachusetts. The school serves both adults and children who have emotional, behavioral or psychiatric problems or intellectual disabilities and is the only school in the United States that uses “painful electric shocks to discipline students, and the practice has been in place there for decades.”

The decision to ban these devices was a “culmination of more than a decade of legal battles,” according to the New York Times. The school’s use of these devices had critics arguing for a long while that they were causing lasting damage. And the F.D.A has now taken action.

The ban on these devices is a result of reviewing the practice and weighing its use against the harm that could be caused. “We have gained a better understanding of the danger these devices present to public health,” William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Product Evaluation and Quality in the F.D.A.’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health said in the F.D.A. statement.

This ban sounds obvious and shocking that it is still in practice somewhere, but the school that uses these devices as part of their student’s treatment plan is not happy about this nationwide ban. A statement posted by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center says the F.D.A. “made a decision based on politics, not facts, to deny this lifesaving, court-approved treatment.” The school says they provided the F.D.A. with testimony and notes over the past several years, pointing to the benefits they’ve seen from using this practice and accuses the F.D.A. with sticking “its head in the sand and refused to visit.”

The F.D.A “estimates between 45 and 50 individuals are currently being exposed to the device.” And in its investigation, the F.D.A. has found these electric shock devices cause “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.” In the statement, the agency recognized that some students who are using this as part of their treatment plan might need some transitional time to stop using the shock device.

“The F.D.A. believes that state-of-the-art behavioral treatments, such as positive behavioral support and medications, can enable health care providers to find alternative approaches for curbing self-injurious or aggressive behaviors in their patients,” it added.

The F.D.A says the ban of using shock devices only applies to ones “used for self-injurious or aggressive behavior and does not apply to aversive conditioning devices used for other purposes.”