Genuine car accident cars are brought out to the field, and the whole school goes out to watch as actual emergency response personnel act out the scenario of a drunk driving accident. Pre-trained students are also involved, and have make-up on to simulate the wounds of the accident. The "drunk driver" is checked out by the police as the firemen use the jaws of life on the car to get a student out. A lifeflight helicopter transports the "wounded" student to the hospital, where they are pronounced dead and taken to the actual morgue. Throughout the rest of the day, pre-chosen students are pulled out of class by the Grim Reaper (in the past, it was our principal in the garb) every 15 minutes--they are taken to a site where they discuss the program, write "good-bye" letters to their families as if they had really died, etc. All of this is filmed, of course, and the next day at the Every 15 Minutes Rally the whole school watches the video and the students involved, along with their parents, talk about what it was like to simulate this tragedy.
To me it's emotional abuse. If there were any evidence at all that the program saved lives, perhaps I'd be more inclined to support it, but there is none. Not one piece. To toy with the emotions of teenagers for no measurable benefit, and to take two school days to do so--well, I've already said I find it manipulative and abusive.
That's a very long lead-in to what's going on this Friday at school. I quote from the informational letter that was emailed to us today. It's from the Traffic Safety Awareness Program, and carries the logos of the County of Sacramento, the California Office of Traffic Safety, and the Sacramento Law Enforcement Chaplaincy:
Real DUI Court in Schools is an innovative strategy for helping reduce community alcohol problems and improve traffic safety. The program “Choices & Consequences: Know the Truth” informs high school students about the risks of driving under the influence through practical education. Altering the attitudes of teen drivers is fundamental to changing their behavior. To achieve this objective, a robust, multifaceted approach to solving the problem of driving under the influence is required.
Conducting Real DUI court proceedings in Sacramento County high schools provides students with the opportunity to directly witness the legal consequences of drinking and driving, such as the defendant’s arrest, detention, and imposed fines and penalties. Students will also learn about the role and decisions of the judicial branch of the government. Allowing students to witness actual DUI sentencing hearings that go through our legal system every day gives them a memorable experience they can keep with them as a practical reference for the future. The information provided will help students make informed decisions should they ever come face to face with this situation.
This self-contained program is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. We provide the lighting,stage, courtroom structure and props. The program begins with a dynamic video on the consequences of driving under the influence provided by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) followed by a powerful presentation from a victim of a DUI or DUI offender. The transition is seamless as the court staff takes the stage and the bailiff calls the court to order. The residing judge will preside over a real case, with a real defendant, resulting in an actual sentence. (boldface mine--Darren)
Students have the opportunity to watch the defending and prosecuting attorneys deliberate over the DUI offender’s sentence, as well as hear the judge’s verdict. Once the verdict has been read the students are invited to ask any question they have about the subject and the hearing they just witnessed.
Real DUI Court in Schools, “Choices & Consequences” is a DUI prevention program funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration. It brings together the best resources of the Sacramento County Superior Court, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy-Sacramento and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
As this is real and not fake, and as it doesn't needlessly toy with kids' emotions, I'm inclined to be more receptive to it than I am to Every 15 Minutes. I don't know what, if any, track record this program has, but as E15M has no measurable effect on reducing DUI's at schools that host the program, this Real DUI Court In Schools program cannot do any worse.
All juniors and seniors at my school will witness/participate in this program on Friday. I'll be there for at least the first part of it, as my entire 1st period class is seniors.