Police Stage Deaths to Scare Teens About Drunk Driving

Every 15 Minutes Grim Reaper Logo Some San Diego students got a harsh lesson about drunk driving recently.

On a Monday morning last month, California Highway Patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino High School to announce some horrible news: 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, with several dozen students’ participation, to dramatize the consequences of drinking and driving.

Bill Jempty figures the schools should just get back to the “three R’s” since, after all, “most parents send their children to school to be educated in a non-sadistic fashion.” But, like it or not, schools have been asked to do more than simply teach basic skills.

One understands the desire to teach teens, who are the most likely demographic to be killed in auto accidents, about the dangers of driving while intoxicated. But this tactic is beyond outrageous and those in charge should be fired.

Beyond the intentional infliction of emotional distress, as Joanne Jacobs point out, these students have been taught “the message is not to trust authority figures.”

That educational leaders and the CHP combine for so little judgment is shocking.

Image: Every 15 Minutes

FILED UNDER: Education, Law and the Courts, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    This is typical teachers union hysteria–the NEA is certainly living up to its reputation as being a terrorist organization in this case.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    I couldn’t help wonder how congress would react if homeland security did something similar. “I wish to open my comments to this congressional hearing by expressing my deepest sympathy to the senators and representatives who were killed in this mornings terrorist attacks. However I would point out that their deaths underline the continued threat of terrorist attack.”

    I suspect that the congressional response would be even harsher than the students and parents.

  3. davod says:

    It is my understanding that this was something pushed by MADD. I think showing accident photographs (While they are shocking) would achieve a better result.

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    Joanne Jacobs’ point about teaching them not to trust authority figures is actually a good thing. These kids will now have a measure of skepticism in them, something many high schoolers lack. It may also teach them to be especially wary of those with an agenda. The ends justify the means crowd is gaining ground every day.

  5. joe says:

    As drug culture was getting big, students were told that doing pot would turn them into maniacs, and when they found out that this wasn’t true, all drug education went nowhere. If these school officials are going to treat DUI education this way, they’re going to find out it’s not only ineffective, but it will lead to an increase in drunk driving amongst students.