Subject: General Questions    / General General Questions

Controversial Punishment Procedures

In a prior assignment, you considered some “controversial treatments.” Perhaps there is no more controversial treatment than the use of highly aversive punishment procedures for children and adolescents, especially those with disabilities. Some behavior analysts strongly oppose the use of aversive punishment procedures (for example, skin shock, aromatic ammonia, lemon juice). Other behavior analysts weigh the short-term discomfort to the client associated with such procedures against the potentially long-term relief from pain and risk to the client that may occur if dangerous behaviors are not effectively decreased or stopped so that more appropriate skills can be taught.

Conduct a search for information on aversive procedures being used with children and adolescents. Cite the source and describe the treatment. Prepare 3–4 pro statements that might be given to support the use of the treatment. Also, prepare 3–4 con statements that might be given to oppose the treatment. Finally, give your own opinion. Discuss relevant ethical compliance code elements that you have learned in this course thus far. Submit this assignment for grading and feedback from your instructor.

Writing Requirements

To achieve a successful project experience and outcome for your Controversial Treatments paper, you are expected to meet the following requirements:

· Written communication:

§ Prepare an outline of your key points and related comments before constructing your document.

§ Check grammar and spelling using your software’s editing tools.

§ Practice the correct use of the ABA terminology that you have learned, where appropriate.

§ Edit carefully to remove out-of-place or extraneous content. The final product should clearly communicate your points in a concise and efficient manner. This is an important skill to practice for becoming an effective behavior analyst. Remember that others (for example, teachers, parents, caretakers, and managers) often will have only a few precious minutes or seconds to hear or read your comments.

· Paper expectations:

§ Write a paper of no less than 750 words and no more than 1,000 words of content, excluding the cover page and references.

§ Use double spacing with one-inch margins.

§ Use Times New Roman, 12-point font. Use underlining, italics, and bold highlights sparingly.

· List of references: Include at least five reference from a professional journal or text, Web site, or other resource. In some cases, you will be directed to provide additional references or information.

· APA format: Format the paper (including references according to APA (6th edition) style and formatting guidelines.

Refer to the Controversial Punishment Procedures Scoring Guide to ensure you understand the grading criteria for this assignment.

Note: Your instructor may also use the APA Writing Feedback Rubric to provide additional feedback on your academic writing. The writing feedback rubric does not affect your assignment grade, but its feedback may factor into the grading criteria, if professional communication and writing is a course competency. Evaluate your own work using this rubric. Refer to the Learner Guide for instructions on viewing instructor feedback.


Describes a controversial punishment procedure using information from at least Five reputable source. (Worth 20%)

Describes 3 pro and 3 con statements regarding the controversial treatment by citing an interview (or interviews) or information from a reputable source. (Worth 30%)

Justifies opinion on controversial punishment procedure and relates the controversial punishment procedure to the BACB code elements. Worth: (50%)

Sample Answer

Aversive procedures can be described as the systematic use of unpleasant, noxious and uncomfortable events to alter the behavior of children and teenagers or protect them from injuring themselves (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). Aversive procedures include the use of mechanical and physical restraint and physical isolation (Kazdin, 1984). These procedures are especially useful in combating aggression, anger and irritability in children and adolescents. Aversive procedures comprise of aversive conditioning and aversive stimulus (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). Aversive conditioning involves the use of unpleasant events to punish children and adolescents. Aversive conditioning is also referred to as aversive therapy where behavioral therapy through physical and psychological discomfort is used in reducing the appeal of behaviors caregivers want to eliminate (Kazdin, 1984). Conversely, aversive stimulus is the response towards light proximity, loud noises, bright light, social interaction and extreme cold/warmth (Kazdin, 1984). Aversive stimulus is used in decreasing the probability of particular behaviors when presented as a punishment.

Aversive procedures being used on children and adolescents include the use of isolation, physical restraint, and the use of aversive mists, unpleasant tastes and noxious odors (Kazdin, 1984). Aversive treatment procedures are appropriate for children and adolescents who exhibit signs of physical harm or pose a risk to other children (Kazdin, 1984). For instance, the use of isolation as an aversive treatment procedure requires the seclusion of a particular child/adolescent in a room for a particular period of time. The child is prevented from leaving the room as the room remains closed (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). The child is also prohibited from taking part in activities occurring outside the room. Aversive treatment procedures have several advantages. First, it is a very effective treatment in eliminating problematic behaviors such as addiction problems e.g alcoholism (Westling et al., 2010). An example is the use of electrical shock therapy to make a teenager stop smoking cigarettes. Alternatively, for an alcoholic teenager, aversion therapy is done through a combination of the drug disulfiram with alcohol which causes severe symptoms such as headaches, anxiety and nausea (Westling et al., 2010). Aversive procedures are also useful in treating undesirable compulsive and subconscious habits such as hair pulling, skin pricking, and nail biting (Kazdin, 1984).

Furthermore, the procedure is useful in treating pathological gambling and sexual deviations in adolescents (Kazdin, 1984). For instance, in 1971, it was reported that aversive therapy successfully reduced a 12-year old exhibitionist behavior and deviant masturbatory fantasy (Kazdin, 1984). Self-injurious behavior is considered a life threatening chronic behavioral disorder that requires some form of aversive treatment. Aversive treatment procedures are used in treating the condition because it is difficult to treat this condition using conventional non-aversive behavioral techniques (Chen et al., 1999). According to research, aversive treatment leads to about 70% six month abstinence rates for people with behavioral problems (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). Additionally, aversive treatment is most effective when used with other biological and cognitive therapies such as detoxification and antagonist drugs (Brockway et al., 1977).

However, according to some scholars, aversive treatment procedures are dehumanizing since they subject children and adolescents to social degradation, social isolation, out of proportion treatment for the target behavior. These procedures are regarded as unethical by critics (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). Critics believe that aversive treatment procedures are a form of corporal punishment. According to the American Psychiatric Association, using aversion therapy to treat sexual deviant adolescents (homosexuals) is a form of ethical violation (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). In the past, homosexuals were subjected to administration of shock on their genitals to alter their sexual orientation. Several human right groups considered this practice as inhumane and abusive. Also, electric shocks cause anxiety and anxiety related symptoms in teenagers subjected to it (Kazdin, 1984). Moreover, aversive treatment procedures are dangerous for adolescents and children with underlying conditions such as cardiac, pulmonary and gastrointestinal problems. The type and intensity of stimuli administered to people with underlying medical conditions may worsen their symptoms (Hineline & Rosales-Ruiz, 2013). Another disadvantage of aversive treatment procedure is the obvious physical pain experienced by children and adolescents subjected to it. For instance, the use of shock therapy is painful and may cause other physical side effects such as severe stress, and physical illness (Westling et al., 2010).

In my opinion, aversive treatment procedures should not be used on children and adolescents. Instead children and adolescents with behavioral problems should be treated using other reinforcement and nonintrusive treatment techniques. The use of aversive treatment procedures is a form of corporal punishment which is dangerous to children’s welfare. Shock therapy is especially very dangerous to children and adolescents since it is a painful procedure that causes some form of anxiety. The use of these procedures may actually exacerbate the issues hence causing other mental issues in children and adolescents such as depression, anxiety and suicidability. Instead, other treatment procedures should be used in treating behavioral problems such as exposure therapy, rehabilitation and other behavioral therapies. The procedures also defy the ethical principles of beneficence and duty of doing no harm. I don’t believe that aversion treatment is effective in treating addiction and behavioral problems such as cigarette smoking since people get used to unpleasant feelings with time. When a human being comes across a negative feeling at first they will abhor it but with time, they get used to the feeling. Therefore, aversive treatment causes more harm than good to individuals (children and adolescents}.

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