Thursday, 12 June 2008

Your schoolmates are dead...just tricking!

This has to be right up there with the worst ideas ever to combat drink driving.
OCEANSIDE, Calif. — On a Monday morning last month, highway patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino High School to announce some horrible news: Several students had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend.

Classmates wept. Some became hysterical.

A few hours and many tears later, though, the pain turned to fury when the teenagers learned that it was all a hoax — a scared-straight exercise designed by school officials to dramatize the consequences of drinking and driving.

As seniors prepare for graduation parties Friday, school officials in the largely prosperous San Diego suburb are defending themselves against allegations they went too far.

At school assemblies, some students held up posters that read: "Death is real. Don't play with our emotions."

Michelle de Gracia, 16, was in physics class when an officer announced that her missing classmate David, a popular basketball player, had died instantly after being rear-ended by a drunken driver. She said she felt nauseated but was too stunned to cry.

"They got the shock they wanted," she said.

Some of her classmates became extremely upset, prompting the teacher to tell them immediately it was all staged.

"People started yelling at the teacher," she said. "It was pretty hectic."

Others, including many who heard the news of the 26 deaths between classes, were left in the dark until the missing students reappeared hours later.

"You feel betrayed by your teachers and administrators, these people you trust," said 15-year-old Carolyn Magos. "But then I felt selfish for feeling that way, because, I mean, if it saves one life, it's worth it."

Officials at the 3,100-student school officials defended the program.

"They were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized," said guidance counselor Lori Tauber, who helped organize the shocking exercise and got dozens of students to participate. "That's how they get the message."

The plan was to tell the truth to the students at an assembly later in the day. But word that it was all a hoax began to spread before the gathering. Tauber said some counselors and administrators revealed the truth to calm some students who had become upset.

Oceanside Schools Superintendent Larry Perondi said he fielded only a few calls from parents, while the PTA chapter said it had not heard any complaints. Perondi said the program would be revised, but he would not say how. And he said he was glad that students seemed to have gotten the message.

"We did this in earnest," he said. "This was not done to be a prankster."
One can understand why school officials felt that they had to go so far over the top to get their message across. What with all of the other hysteria students have to deal with (global warming and other environmental alarmism etc) they are building resistance to hysterical messages and officials needed to go to the next level to get kids to listen.

All of the school officials who participated in the program should be sacked.

(Nothing Follows)


Anonymous said...

Great idea.. It certainly made a few students consider the consequences of drink driving, and may have saved a life. They will get over it, and should be thanking the people who cared enough to find a way to make the message stick. Clever.

Brian H. Gill said...

This is one of the most foolish academic stunts I've encountered, or read about.

I agree that the nitwits who dreamed up this hoax have no place in education - at least not in posts which involve decision-making or contact with students.

I'm afraid that El Camino High School may have taught the wrong lessons.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea to get the message across! I'd rather it be a joke than really true! Kids/Teens these days are so wreckless with drinking and driving that it is insane! I know there are schools here in TX that have done that same exact thing. People don't listen to just the mere words of "don't drive and drive" because there are still casualties because of it and majority of them are teen related cases each year. I think this approach is a different, yet valuable thing to get through to them!

Anonymous said...

Please email this dumb counselor and tell her she should be ashamed of herself.

Anonymous said...

Im sure it made them consider. But the end does not always justify the means. Smoking kills more each year then drunk driving, why not tell them their parents have cancer or have had heart attacks. Sex abuse is a problem too, next time say there were a series of rapes and murders. This was a stupid idea and there should at the least be a formal apology to each student.

Anonymous said...

So the end does justify the means. If this was any other than the school faculity & police department, they would be sited for malicious conduct or worse.
We the the people, put our educators in a position of trust to do the right thing. Its a given that a certian amount of common sense comes along with that degree that made you teachers. yea, you did your thing & proved your point. At what cost?
Anyone of those young men & women could have become so emotional in thier despair over the loss of a friend or loved one,.....& you could have had a real death on your hands.
whos going to handle all of the counseling that will no doubt happen because of the emotional trama of this little exercise? Was it really worth it, & does the end really justify means?

Anonymous said...

Drinking and driving by teens is ILLEGAL, everywhere in this country. Yet still it happens. How many parents out there are fully aware of their teen drinking and do nothing about it, or are powerless to do anything because of the acceptance level by our society for teen drinking? This school demonstration may have been drastic, yes, I agree. However, if it saves one life, it's worth it. Have parents been able to get through to teens? Does telling them not to do it work? No, not as a whole it doesn't. This will work. We must ask ourselves what we hope to accomplish by this. I would wager many students may be angry, but many will also take this to heart and start thinking realistically about drinking and driving. Hats off to El Camino for sticking their necks out to save their students when parents are not doing that effectively.

Elijah said...

"if it saves one life, it's worth it."

Oh my god.

And naturally a 15 year old girl had to say it.

Anonymous said...

if it saves one life, it's worth it ... what poppycock. Silly stunts like this could take lives. Some of the students who wheren't told immediately that it was a stunt could've harmed themselves. Yeah, suicide.

To base a program on a statement such as it may save a life is ignorant. There have been too many programs like this that plainly backfire. Like teenagers visiting prisons to deter them from going into prison. Had the opposite effect. Before any intervention scheme is put into practice, it needs to be tested. This wouldn't have been. I wouldn't consider it anyway because it is based on a lie, and a very traumatic one at that.

For the school to be defending what they did shows they still don't have a clue.

There are other ways of combatting drink driving, and this isn't one of them.