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Sticks Lead to Stones: We Need to be Very Angry at School Abuse of the Disabled

Puzzle piece black eye Adriana Gamondes
Sticks Lead to Stones: We Need to be Very Angry at School Abuse of the Disabled
A West Virginia Public School in the News Over Barbaric Treatment of Nonverbal Students With Autism

By Adriana Gamondes

The written transcript of the KUTV news report below starts off with a trigger warning:

A warning: What you are about to read is disturbing.

But I don’t believe in trigger warnings when the public and official response to the ongoing epidemic of abuse of disabled children has been mostly insufficient if not downright passive or complicit.

 From Salt Lake City’s KUTV: Watch Video here.

A hidden recording device in a special education classroom is raising alarming questions about what went on inside a classroom at an elementary school in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Instructor #1: "I ought to backhand you right in your teeth. How is that for anxiety?"

According to parents, that's a secret audio recording of an instructor talking to children inside a special education class at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Amber Pack sent her 8-year-old daughter to class with a recording device after the child didn't want to go back to school. (WJLA)

Instructor #1: "This one I could punch her right in her face."

A different instructor in the same class.

Instructor #2: "You got to go pee-pee? Pee-pee? Or do you not have to go pee-pee and you just want to go **** *** in a chair?"

There's more:

Instructor #2: "I'm going to pull your hair until you start crying."

Instructor #3: "Don't throw it. Don't throw. You animal you."

Instructor #2: "Yep. You wench."

Instructor #2: "You're like a pygmy. You're like a pygmy thing."

The next day Pack alerted the school district and the Martinsburg Police Department.

The story goes on to report that the three staff members were put on “administrative leave.” If this case follows the national pattern, these teachers will simply be placed in other school systems, just like clerical abusers in the church had been for years.

The above is only one example of countless cases of abuse and mistreatment of the disabled in schools and institutions across the US.  When taken a step further, this mistreatment has, according to a decades-old study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, led to the deaths of up to three disabled individuals a week, mostly children.

Harvard drew these statistics in 1997 back when the rate of autism was 1 in 500. Considering the fact that school and institutional policies have not improved and considering the current rate of autism alone— a catastrophic 1 in 36 children— not to mention many other categories of learning and cognitive disorders that have risen among children in the same time period, it may very well be that the death toll from institutional abuse has exponentially risen as well.

And considering that no federal or state agency tracks the number of deaths and injuries occurring in US schools and institutions,  this does not speak well of the oversight for emotional abuse or physical abuse  in institutions that doesn’t leave marks.  In any case, where the latter is happening, the former is more likely. Words lead to sticks, sticks lead to stones. 

Speaking of the other kind of “stick”—excessive vaccination—the vicious cycle seems to be afforded by the fact that our society is creating more and more silent punching bags for sickos in the system.

The official silence in response to both disasters can be deafening as the two West Virginia mothers who uncovered staff abuse in the above story discovered— as well as the fact that is nothing worse than seeing your children become statistics twice over, particularly for epidemics that no one will admit are epidemics. 

Fortunately not all nonverbal children remain silent victims. The first paragraph my son spoke at age seven after losing speech following routine vaccination right after his first birthday was a call for justice.  I’d had no idea that, for many months, my son had been absorbing my instructions to his slightly more verbal disabled twin sister to tell us if anything happened in school. He’d apparently understood every word. That would also means he could have understood every abusive word spoken to him since the time he’d started school.

After describing how his school aide had physically hauled him out of class for “standing too close to other students,” he said “I want you to be angry at Mrs. Campbell. She pushed me and she hurt me. I cried. I want you to be so angry.”

And I was, especially after seeing the bruises and welts on his back.

This happened on “Autism Awareness Day”—April 2nd, 2012. All these years later I’m still “very angry” but the nature of that anger has changed, as it has for my son. For me, anger has become action. And now that my once severely stricken, once nonverbal son is significantly recovered from autism, he expresses his anger at how he’s been treated through a passion for social justice.  

Go big or go home as they say. We don’t burn with crippling rage anymore and we don’t think much about measly individual culprits. There’s not much point since no legal authority or advocacy entity in our state would lift a finger in response to our reports of assault. It would have made us happy to see them in jail, but we’ll make do with simmering and looking  at the big picture. It makes us more effective and, I would even argue, happier.

Yes, anger makes us happier.  I’m convinced that human beings have a radar for what’s happening around them—even things they may not have directly witnessed nor even heard about— and that depression and despair are often an expression of the gap between what we’re told or would prefer to believe is happening and what is actually happening. If the gap gets too wide, we risk falling into it.  So it’s better to close the gap and heed our instincts than it is to create an abyss of denial that can swallow us.

Two gaping chasms in public consciousness are the epidemic of abuse of the disabled in schools and institutions across the United States as well as the epidemic of disability itself.  Clearly there wouldn’t be such enormous gaps and so much cause for anger if all the agencies and public entities charged with children’s health, safety and guarding the rights of the disabled were doing their jobs… instead of taking money from corporations that are turning public schools into profitable testocracies that perversely motivate staff to chase out disabled students because the disabled threaten their bonuses for high test curves. Or taking money from the pharmaceutical, chemical, junk food and petroleum industries to cover up environmental injuries. The grotesque corruption in our public institutions is the biggest consciousness abyss of all and our children are being swallowed. 

So screw the trigger warnings. Barrage your representatives, neighbors and the media with stories of the collateral—of criminal callousness, of greed, of poisoning, of violence. Do it by stealth if you have to, cajole, use black humor, sneak up on them and smack them in the heads with it.  The more we commit, the more solid the ground we stand on becomes. The truth is a weapon when we’re at war—go ahead and pull the trigger.

Adriana Gamondes is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism and one of the blog’s social media administrators.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Morag

"The Dubh-ans" Dark side of the machinery's workings ?
If evil were a machine? it would be stamped, labeled, and branded as,
[1] medicalised mandates of produce with no health and safety risk assessments ?
[2] Victorian "Bedlam" Policies, Procedures, and Principles ,in health and social care and education ,still using -Punishment-Restraint -Seclusion ,as abehavioural strategy , techniques and standard for "The Behaviours "not deemed by the machine's abuse of it's own position of authority ,and being selectively ,by accident but deliberately? ending up blind, deaf, and mute, towords it's own mechanical behavioural monstrosities . " The Behaviours " still in the jeans? passed on from Victorian "Bedlam" Principles !
Reverse engineering and reverse goal planning .It's a" SKOOSH " meaning easy as anything once described .
You don't have to agree with it or like it ? but you better step out of it's way , because if Vaxxed 2 2019 ,Bus gets it's tyres punctured or slashed ,then it still won't get wearied ,it will just be taking the train instead .
Mumford and Sons ,Edward Sharpe - The Old Crow Medicine Show This Train is bound for glory .
You Tube .Get yer dancing shoes looked out for 2019!

Casey

Jeff-
I am a special education teacher who works with children on the spectrum... I cannot believe I am reading your comment correctly. Are you in any way defending these adults' actions? By blaming stress and lack of funding? OH HELL NO!
There is NEVER a legitimate reason for an adult to abuse (emotionally or physically) a child. In whatever form. Through fear, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, hitting.. whatever. IT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE. If an adult is too stressed at their job where they have to resort to abuse- THEY NEED A NEW JOB! So public schools have failed special education children - duh. But that is NO EXCUSE for abusing children. It seems like you are trying to normalize it? This is eerily just like someone would play devils advocate to normalize pedophilia. Or sexual harassment. Or racism.
I'm going to say it again for those in the back. There is no two sides to child abuse. IT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE.
The market will control demand, parents will start sending students to publicly funded private schools or create their own safe schools to attend. As they should, if this is what public school represents. It's easy to blame lack of funding, but in my state that's total BS. The funding is there, but districts don't prioritize special education. That still doesn't matter, ABUSE IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE.

Gayle

I have heard too many horror stories of abuse of both adults and children with autism both in schools and in group homes. I could write a whole page of the horror stories I have heard about how much abuse is going on with staff just being transferred to another school or group home to abuse more people. There is one tragic case of a young 12 or 13 year old boy who was living in a state institution for the disabled who was strangled to death on the bus by the bus monitor while the driver did nothing to stop it. How long do we have to hear these horror stories before something is done about it. We as parents have to worry every day about how our children are being treated and whether or not they are safe from harm from these monsters and there is a place for such monsters and it is called Hell and they will wind up there one day for the abuse they did to the most helpless members of society-the disabled.

Barry

We Need to be Very Angry at School Abuse of the Disabled

***********

I think the first thing we need get angry (... FURIOUS!!) at, is the medical system that put our children in a position where this kind of abuse could even happen to them.

A medical system that is knowingly, and willingly disabling children with vaccines.

annie

I’m reminded of the press conference RFK Jr. held w/ Del Bigtree, Robert DeNiro, Nico Lahood, and Minister Tony Mohammad in 2017. In a following address Mr Kennedy relayed a story about his father reading him the Biblical story of Jesus and the little children. I don’t have the good graces of any of the aforementioned, Ms Gamondes, or any of the wonderful people here. What those women did, and what Pharma continues to do to thousands of innocent children everyday is criminal! I’m triggered and I want them to rot in prison!

Barry Stern

"The grotesque corruption in our public institutions is the biggest consciousness abyss of all and our children are being swallowed."

America needs to put a stop to this. Unfortunately, many schools waste their special ed funds by not hiring and keeping qualified staff or not keeping and verifying accurate program statistics. Without such stats how do governmental authorities, parents and taxpayers assess whether the special ed program is getting better or worse? How do parents discern whether their child had learned anything with the staff assigned to his/her classroom, especially if the child cannot speak and relay to parents what is happening at school? How do they determine whether all that data the school is collecting truly reflects the child's progress or is just made up to ensure the provider gets paid?

Part of the problem is that public schools have a major conflict of interest. They provide all three functions for special ed: (1) diagnosis, (2) prescription (IEP), and (3) filling the prescription (therapy/education). One way to break up their monopoly while gaining more cost-effectiveness is to split up these three functions. Schools currently do it all, and they often misuse funds to keep costs down especially during hard times.

Suppose schools were to only fill prescriptions while a state agency or contractor would diagnose, prescribe and then dole out to providers enough funds to adequately fulfill the child’s prescription (IEP). Both public and private providers would compete to enroll these kids once they know what they could earn by educating them. Parents who disagree that school applicants can do the job with current staff and programs could opt to use these state funds to hire their child's therapists and teachers, as suggested here: http://www.educationviews.org/increase-federal-special-education-funding-parental-choice/


Adriana

Jeff--

Holocaust survivor, political philosopher, historian and memoirist Primo Levi protested any blurring of the line between perpetrators and victims as a “precious service rendered (intentionally or not) to the negators of truth.”

You've blurred those lines-- intentionally or not. Three teachers are not dying every week at the hands of disabled children. And unlike their disabled students, abusive school staff can voluntarily leave the jobs they're so clearly not suited for. The GAO found in 2013 that most students who are injured or killed in schools had not been endangering others or themselves at the times of the incidents but instead incurred abuse for "disruptive" behaviors or other nonthreatening behaviors associated with their conditions, neither of which are legal pretexts for restraint according to the ADA.

You also seem to be promoting the "refrigerator parent" trope and mingling it with the view that those trying to heal and recover their children from autism do so because they're disappointed in or hate their children.

And finally you've misinterpreted the point about anger, though maybe I could have been more clear. Emotions are like colors in a paint box. They're neither good nor bad on their own. It only matters what picture you paint with them. Civil rights activists for valid causes arguably try to use anger to fuel positive change. The picture that abusive school staff are painting is nothing more than lethal cowardice.

Ask any good teacher who quit the profession or repeatedly changed schools because of witnessing incidents like this. They don't show so much sympathy for their abusive former colleagues.


Adriana

Will-- I'm glad to hear I'm making sense. I was worried about being repetitive since I've written on these issues for a decade. Things have only gotten worse in the interim so I continue to repeat myself.

You make a great point about abuse in private group homes and charter schools. It all boils down to the same enemy.

The privatization of the CDC, via "public-private partnerships," arguably brought us the autism and environmental disease epidemics as well as the coverups and demonization of both the collateral and whistleblowers. The fox took over the public health hen house and the chickens got devoured. The CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry.

And again, the privatization of the DOE and public schools contributes directly to increasing abuse of the disabled. According to Diane Ravitch and educator and activist Jonathan Pelto (http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/02/23/common-core-sbac-test-designed-id-9-10-special-education-children-failures/), standardized tests-- those written by private testing corporations and paid for by tax funds-- are designed to fail 90% of special needs students. The failure rate, which threatens staff merit pay, provides the impetus for contempt towards and a motivation for schools to defy the ADA and IEPs and rid themselves of special needs students who are often shuffled off to corporate psychiatric gulags and detention centers which are frequently subsidiaries of the private prison industry. The abuse may not be accidental. It's obviously not written policy but the outcome is predictable. Children will suffer and they will die.

It would almost seem as if the overall planned failure of public schools (lobbied for by the very corporations profiting from the testocracy and the charter school movement) depended in part on skyrocketing numbers of disabled students in order to accelerate that failure. The more disabled students there are, the faster public schools can be declared failures and the faster this paves the way for fully corporatized education. In any event, it's yet another disincentive to find a cause for the epidemics of disability and makes it unsurprising that ed corporations, the private prison industry and the pharmacceutical industry often share board members and populate the ranks of communal bill-mill business round table type associations.

As little accountability as our partly-privatized public schools now have regarding the numbers of disabled who are abused, injured or killed in institutions in the US, imagine how much less accountability a completely corporatized system will have and imagine the death and injury toll then. The thing about fully public institutions is that they have to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests and are vulnerable to public outcry. Once partly privatized, accountability is reduced since corporations are not bound by law to respond to requests for information. Multinational corporations-- which many of these ed corporations are-- have no country and no loyalty to any population. They might as well be extraterrestrials. They certainly don't have to honor FOIAs and they're immune to flak.

I think this works similarly in terms of increasingly systematized racism. The school-to-prison pipeline, which largely targets African Americans and not-so-blond Latinos, channels kids into neo-slave labor pools of the private prison industry. Blatantly racist politicos-- like race-baiting fascist movements in the last century-- are choose targets for cynical and pragmatic reasons: a slave class is required for slavery to exist and neoliberalism requires a slave class.

Whipping up bigotry also distracts the public and offers up a scapegoat for the real culprit in all the above which I believe is neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is neither right nor left wing at this point-- it's taken over the entire system.

Jeff

While I understand that perhaps the language of these teachers is hurtful, we should also look at the abuse that students may have inflicted on these special education teachers. Autistic children often only know how to express themselves through violence - pushing, hitting, biting - and the capacity for human compassion can only go so far. Ms. Gamondes you say that anger makes us happier, perhaps these teachers felt the same way, and they were sick and tired of a school system that is providing them zero assistance or money, especially when it has been proven by numerous studies that taxpayer money that is often requested for special education services doesn't go to special education at all, with 30% of a district's funding requested for special ed in most public districts, and the cost of these programs having risen 40% in the last 20 years - far higher and far faster than any other facet of a school's funding.

I invite Age of Autism to provide coverage of the new musical coming to London, "All in a Row", which boldly shows the pain and suffering parents of an autistic child go through on a daily basis. The show has gained controversy due to the fact that the aforementioned child is portrayed by a wooden puppet, and honestly I think this is a brilliant move - it shows how autistic parents feel like they often have to care for a doll, a wooden toy that is not living up to its potential. I hope that all parents see it, and it boldly awakens them to parents' struggles and leads them to asking more questions about how we can curb this vicious and deadly disease - and checking on vaccinations might be a good start.

Adriana

Grace-- thank you so much. I just read a comment on an unrelated thread from an adult who, as a secondary student, witnessed school staff tormenting, physically abusing and humiliating a classmate with autism.
It seems the trauma is not just limited to affected children but has spread and grown. Many teachers have quit the profession claiming PTSD for example. I wish there were more specific reports on this but we can imagine that at least some of that trauma was caused by the increasingly brutal treatment of disabled students. Those in the system who can't tolerate seeing the abuse or won't participate-- the very people with sufficient empathy to call a halt to such abuse-- may be weeded out.

It was only after Vietnam officially acknowledged that Agent Orange had caused generations of birth defects and disabilities that the country formed what are called "Peace Villages"- entire towns and municipalities that are contracted to care for and form communities around the collateral of Agent Orange.

There haven't been many updates on how Peace Villages are working out but it seems clear that the truth about the cause of various industrial epidemics may inspire more public empathy than the ugly spin which, by default, tends to blame bad genes or irresponsible lifestyles. The latter only seems to fan the flames of contempt and even violence.

Will

Mrs Gamobdes is finally making sense. The mainstream "disabled rights" groups are racist and ableist. They only care about wheelchair accessibility and sometimes bullying of their tolken members with Down syndrome. These groups do not care about abuse of people with autism and these supposed disabled rights groups that claim to care about ID/DD persons have made the problem worse by allowing to close developmental centers and in their place, for profit group homes and poorly regulated charter schools. The before mentioned schools and homes is where most if the abuse of those with autism happened not the "institution" these groups decried. Also the hypocrisy of both liberal and conservatives politicians and judges that almost sympathize with the killers of those with ID/DDs through lack of understanding of the victim and lenient sentences.

Grace Green

Adriana,
Please tell your dear son we're all angry at Mrs. Campbell too, and all the other abusers. Your description of him finding his words and speaking such prophetic truths is Biblical! Perhaps it was the anger which propelled him into that new skill. There will be a special place in Hell for all those who have injured children for profit, and those who abuse the disabled or the just plain powerless.

Hans Litten

Stories like this need to be circulated widely to make sure the rest of the carers behave themselves. And this is a criminal offence, not only a sackable offence.

RFK for president ! Someone please convince him to run - I have seen enough

http://vaccineimpact.com/2019/breaking-fda-sued-for-recommending-untested-unlicensed-flu-vaccine-for-pregnant-women/

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