There is a joke that spans a few episodes of the short-lived Fox sitcom Arrested Development that involves a one armed man hired by the overbearing patriarch of the family to scare his kids into making the right decisions. The man's one-armedness comes into play when the kids are forced to see the results of their actions--forgetting to leave a note about where you are going, for instance, inexplicably results in the man's "arm" torn from his body in a gory display of squirting blood and the father's warning "That's What Happens When You Don't Leave a Note". Sure. Its hilarious. But is it true? Does fear cause us to make good decisions or change our ways?
In high school I took part in what was called a "Pre-Prom Assembly" where all the Juniors and Seniors (amounting to about 1800 kids) sat on the bleachers and watched a terrifying reenactment of a car-crash. In the scene, 4 students (including me) were placed in a mangled car before the "audience" arrived and then proceeded to act out the ultimate prom nightmare: in all our prom finery-tuxes and gowns- we have crashed our car into another car. Our 17 year old driver is drunk. All passengers are injured. One may be dead. The person in the other car is lifeless on the ground. The ambulances arrive and use the jaws of life. The driver is arrested...It was frightening. And maybe it got the message across about how dangerous it could be to get behind the wheel. How it REALLY could be YOU or your best friends.
Last month in California a high school in California went even one step farther to prevent drunk driving. Uniformed police officers entered 20 classrooms and notified students that classmates had been killed in a drive driving accident. Real students. The students were not present. The students were hysterical. As would be expected. It was a hoax--an attempt to scare these kids straight. But they weren't immediately notified of this. I don't know...it might be a little much for me. Do you think it was over the top?