Via Radley Balko, a story about high school:
Many juniors and seniors were driven to tears – a few to near hysterics – May 26 when a uniformed police officer arrived in several classrooms to notify them that a fellow student had been killed in a drunken-driving accident.
The officer read a brief eulogy, placed a rose on the deceased student’s seat, then left the class members to process their thoughts and emotions for the next hour.
The program, titled “Every 15 Minutes,” was designed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Its title refers to the frequency in which a person somewhere in the country dies in an alcohol-related traffic accident.
About 10 a.m., students were called to the athletic stadium, where they learned that their classmates had not died. There, a group of seniors, police officers and firefighters staged a startlingly realistic alcohol-induced fatal car crash. The students who had purportedly died portrayed ghostly apparitions encircling the scene.
Though the deception left some teens temporarily confused and angry, if it makes even one student think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, it is worth the price, said California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Newbury, who orchestrates the program at local high schools.
He has lots of outraged commentors. I'm not getting too worked up about it. Yes, I agree that causing unnecessary emotional distress in young people is very mean and not a good idea. But it reminds me of the general attitude of high school administrators: "While you're here, you're ours."
It's one of those psychological things--people like to be in control. In certain settings, that feeling is going to clash among people, but at least in your occupation you can still tell yourself that you're in control overall; sure, you've got to be there for a while and not do things you want, but it's by your choice. Children don't get such a luxury. Nor should they, in many circumstances, but 1) Adolescents are people who dearly like to feel that they're in control, and 2) Even in those circumstances, emotional trauma of this sort is totally unwarranted. I'd say a lot of the feelings high schoolers go through are someone else's fault and are mostly unwarranted. (Can you guess I had an unpleasant time back then?)