The Food and Drug Administration took the unusual step this week of announcing a ban on the use of electric shock devices as disciplinary tools in U.S. schools. While it is a national ban, only one school is still known to use electric shocks on students—the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, which serves adult and children with intellectual disabilities or behavioral and psychiatric problems, The New York Times reported. For decades, the school has reportedly obtained court approval to make some students wear backpacks with batteries inside and protruding wires that shock the skin when triggered by an employee. Shocks were apparently used to prevent behavior that endangered themselves or others.
The practice presents “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury,” the FDA said in a statement on Wednesday. The decision followed years of legal battles against the school and reports of shocks being used on students for issues as minor as not putting a jacket on. The school said on Thursday that the FDA had “made a decision based on politics, not facts, to deny this lifesaving, court-approved treatment.”