School Fakes 4 Student Deaths as Part of Crazy 'Safe Driving' Campaign

safe driving
Everyone wants kids to understand the importance of safe driving, but how far should educators and parents go to impart this life-saving lesson? Students at a Wisconsin high school were told during morning announcements that four of their classmates had died in a car accident. But it turned out that rather than being a horrific tragedy, it was Brodhead High School's way of conducting a "safe driving drill." How someone thought this was a good idea is beyond my imagination.


An announcement went so far as to detail how one of the students had been rushed to the hospital, junior Sam Bolen told the Washington Post.

Listen to the grim and disturbing message:

"I was pretty upset. It is a really small school, like, most of the people really knew who they were. You kind of know who everybody is in a smaller school," Bolen told the Post.

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Another student told NBC 15 News that classmates were crying, which isn't surprising given that they were told the unthinkable had happened to their friends. 

What were these school officials thinking? Lying to children -- regardless of their age -- completely undermines whatever message you're hoping to get across. The next time these adults try to tell these students something, the majority probably won't be listening. And if they are, why should they believe them after this stunt? 

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Bolen's mom, Sarah, and other parents think the drill, part of a yearlong safe driving initiative, went too far. The mom explained that her son was named for an uncle who'd been killed by a drunk driver.

"It's almost insulting, in a way," she told the Post, referring to the school's strategy. "I don't feel that you need to go to those kinds of extremes to teach a lesson. It minimizes other people's feelings who have actually gone through it."

On the other side, some students and parents defended the incident. Miranda Ryser, a student council member, took to Facebook to explain why she believed the drill was worthwhile:

To the people who are upset about what happened at school today, good. I hope you're upset about it because I would rather have you upset and pissed off at the student council and the principal for a day, instead of being depressed because one of your classmates ACTUALLY died. I get that some people were already affected by other car accidents but it happens. People die on the daily basis and it happens. Touchy subject or not it happens and it shows that it can happen unexpectedly. Like I said before at least you're upset and pissed for a day instead of being depressed for the next couple weeks of your life and having to go to their funeral. 

Sure, it got students' attention, but it seems more like a prank than a lesson. How could kids focus on their schoolwork after this mind trick? Plus, by saying it didn't really happen, aren't you sort of reinforcing the "oh, it can't happen to me" mentality you're trying to eliminate?

Brodhead School District Superintendent Leonard Lueck told the Post, "While we stand by the worthiness of the activity, we recognize the flaws with how it was communicated."

We're all for getting the safe driving message out there, and if this seemingly strange activity saves even one life, it will have been worth it. But we'd argue there have to be more effective ways of doing it.   


Image via GongTo/Shutterstock

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