MADD Fakes Student Deaths to Make Its Point About Drunk Driving
By: Chris Kramer
In the ongoing battle against drunk driving, especially among underage drivers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has pushed the envelope since its founding in the early 1980s. MADD was a major force behind the country's move toward stricter drunk driving laws like a nationally lowered blood alcohol limit of .08%.
While MADD is an organization that arguably fights for a noble cause (that of decreasing the number of impaired drivers and thus decreasing the number of fatalities caused by alcohol-related car accidents), its methods for achieving its goals has at times come into question.
This may be one of those times.
According to SignOnSanDiego.com, a recent MADD program in an El Camino, CA high school was met with anger and confusion by some of the student body. It seems that, in late May, MADD and the local police department had 36 high school students volunteer to play victims of drunk drivingaccidents.
That is, the students volunteered to be dead for educational purposes.
Sources indicate that police officers entered classrooms one morning and told the students that their classmate (who was not present) had been killed by a drunken driver. Going so far as to give a eulogy and place a rose on the "dead" students' chairs, the officers then apparently left students to go about their normal routines for about an hour.
Later in the morning, the school reportedly held an assembly at the sports stadium and watched a police-run demonstration of a car crash involving impaired drivers. During the enactment, the "dead" students allegedly played the role of ghosts circling the scene of the crash.
The stunt, which was part of a program called "Every 15 Minutes," has caught the attention of media sources nationwide. It seems some students were angry that they had been deceived and others were emotionally distraught when they believed their classmates to be dead.
But, according to reports, the police officers and other organizers of the event believe such distress and anger to be justified if the program has the effect of discouraging drunk driving.
The officer in charge of the program apparently expressed the opinion that "talking nicely" to students isn't effective in conveying the don't-drink-and-drive message. Evidently, he believes that students today are so exposed to violence and gore via the Internet and movies that only an emotional jar will effectively reach them.
That may be the case, but some critics still feel MADD crossed the line with this hoax, calling the ruse "psychological torture" and questioning the effect such a stunt will have on the students' ability to trust police in the future.