A top anti-torture official at the UN wants the US government to investigate the use of electric shocks to control disturbed and autistic children at a Massachusetts special school. Students at the Judge Rotenberg Center are fitted with electrodes and given shocks by staff members when they engage in forbidden behavior, a practice UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak says he believes is clearly torture, ABC reports.
School officials say it's ridiculous to call the treatments—which are not used until a court and the child's parents have approved—torture. The shocks, they say, are there to prevent students engaging in behavior like gouging their own eyes, and the real torture would be the alternative: "to be drugged into insensibility, restrained, secluded, and warehoused in a state mental hospital." Nowak, however, says torture "for a good purpose" is still torture. "You cannot balance this," he says. "The prohibition of torture is absolute."