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Parents use spy tech to expose abuse of special needs kids

Suspicious parents of special needs kids have recently taken advantage of advances in spy tech to plant wires on their children at school. The recordings have been used to expose abuse perpetrated by school officials; but also may raise privacy issues.

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Stuart Chaifetz plays with his son Akian Chaifetz, 10, in the backyard of their home in Cherry Hill, N.J., April 25, 2012. Akian has special needs, as do the rest of the students in the class. Chaifetz sent his boy wired with spy tech to expose suspected abuse by Akian's teacher, something more and more parents of special needs kids have been doing.

Mel Evans/AP

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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.

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