Scare Tactics Used to Prevent Drunk Driving

We were shocked to read about last month’s scandal at El Camino high school in

San Diego, CA, where highway patrol officers visited the school one Monday and told students that many of their classmates had been killed in drunk driving crashes over the weekend.  The news frightened students, resulting in a hysterical frenzy in classrooms and hallways as students grieved for 26 of their classmates, who they believed had died.  Later in the day, the “dead” students returned to school, revealing that the entire plan was a hoax that was intended to scare students away from drinking and driving.  School officials claim that scare tactics, like this, are effective in preventing dangerous behavior:  “[Students] were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized,” said guidance counselor Lori Tauber.  “That’s how they get the message.”  However, putting severe psychological distress on students is an unethical and irresponsible way to try and teach a positive message about drinking.  The community would be much better served by trying to teach students about responsible and safe drinking, so that they can make educated choices about drinking and driving.  When a student learns about the consequences of drinking and driving, that knowledge will stay with them for life.  Scare tactics, on the other hand, create fears that can fade over time, possibly leading to dangerous decisions in the future. 

8 Responses to “Scare Tactics Used to Prevent Drunk Driving”

  1. Mark Says:

    In some jurisdictions, making a false statement like this is a criminal offense similar to perjury.

    If I were the parent of one of these students, I would immediately enroll my child in a private school. Then, I would sue the city and the school district for causing emotional distress by knowingly making false statements.

    What were they thinking when they did this? What if one of the students was so distressed over it that they committed suicide? I’m sure they didn’t consult any psychological experts beforehand on the effects of their little ‘experiment’.

    This could never be done to a group of adults without causing national public outrage.

  2. rich Says:

    wWw, and people say kids act irresponsibly. This will only reinforce a typical teen’s belief that when it come to information on drugs, sex and alcohol, adults cannot be trusted. Great job El Camino.

  3. rich Says:

    please correct wWw to Wow. thanks.

  4. Chairman Ma Says:

    How disgusting is this? If anything, this will cause those kids to drink even more.

  5. Corey Says:

    I saw this at my school. Someone doesn’t die every 15 minutes form drunk driving incident. Dunk driving is now described as “Hardcore of Alcoholics who don’t respond to public appeal” says former MADD president Katherine Prescott. Drunk driving is now less of a problem than 25 years ago. It made me think that prohibition saved lives! Prohibition ruined more lives than saved! Most fatalities occur with the drunk driver him/herself. NOBODY DRIVES DRUNK ANYMORE BUT HARDCORE ALCOHOLICS!

  6. Law Office of Bruce M. Margolin Says:

    This incident is most unfortunate. That said, drunk driving does happen and is serious business. We recommend people in California charged with DUIs and DWIs to visit or call 1-800-420-LAWS to get their DUI case handled by experienced, successful attorneys.

  7. Lacey Says:

    I definitely think that students should be taught not to drink and drive but this is not the way to do it! Whoever thought of the idea clearly did not think it through…or just wasn’t thinking at all. I can not believe that the officers and school board agreed to take part! I would like to know how they even managed to convince the entire student body that 26 students had died due to alcohol-related car accidents in one night. If I was in the position of one of those students I would be absolutely furious. I could not imagine how traumatized these students must have felt. These “dead” students were their friends! And then finding out that it was all a hoax? Honestly, that probably didn’t even convince them not to drink and drive. At that point, the only thing that they were convinced of is how ridiculous and stupid their principal and the police officers are. By making this huge hoax, they are actually taking away the seriousness of drinking and driving. There are so many people who actually do die or get seriously hurt from alcohol-related accidents. They could have used real examples to help teach students to be safe and not drive drunk without totally traumatizing them.

  8. gino Says:

    They once did that at my school.. Except they staged the event outside the school itself. A lot of people were quite upset.. I think it gets the message across, but i do think there are better ways of doing it.