Stuart Chaifetz and Other Parents Wire Kids to Prove Teachers’ Verbal Abuse: Experts Weigh In
CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Teachers hurled insults like “bastard,” “tard,” “damn dumb” and “a hippo in a ballerina suit.” A bus driver threatened to slap one child, while a bus monitor told another, “Shut up, you little dog.”
They were all special needs students, and their parents all learned about the verbal abuse the same way - by planting audio recorders on them before sending them off to school.
In cases around the country, suspicious parents have been taking advantage of convenient, inexpensive technology to tell them what children, because of their disabilities, are not able to express on their own. It’s a practice that can help expose abuses, but it comes with some dangers.
This week, a father in Cherry Hill, N.J., posted on YouTube clips of secretly recorded audio that caught one adult calling his autistic 10-year-old son “a bastard.” In less than three days, video got 1.2 million views, raising the prominence of the small movement. There have been at least nine similar cases across the U.S. since 2003.
“If a parent has any reason at all to suggest a child is being abused or mistreated, I strongly recommend that they do the same thing,” said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association.