A hospital in Philadelphia recently set out to educate kids about guns. They put a group of fifteen 8th graders in a darkened room and showed them pictures of gunshot victims. The horrified kids had to look at grisly pictures of people with their heads shot up and their legs riddled with bullets. I read through the article but didn’t find what I was really looking for. I was hoping to find the part in the story where a kid raises his hand and says, “Hey, we’re just teenagers, man. If these things are so dangerous, why don’t you adults stop making and selling them. You’re in charge here, dumb-ass.”
This reminded me of a similar thing I had to endure as a junior in high school. Our school held weekly assemblies, and they occasionally featured a guest speaker. One Monday the lights started dimming and a cop marched up the stairs and strutted to a podium in the center of the stage.
My immediate thought was “This isn’t going to be fun.” Seeing the cop, I sensed that this presentation was gonna be even worse than the last one, which covered a genocide.
The cop started a PowerPoint slide show. The first slide showed an accident scene from the distance, a blur of cruiser lights breaking through the dark. The next slide showed a pair of crumpled cars.
I knew this presentation wasn’t about how poorly American cars were made or how dismal their safety features were. This guy wasn’t trying to scare us into buying a Japanese car.
The cop started talking about drunk driving and moved to the next slide, which featured a driver with a fence post sticking through his stomach.
“Look at his eyes,” the cop said, “he’s still alive.”
That did it. My head started swimming and my whole body broke into a sweat. I stood up and pushed through a row of kids. I got to the aisle and stumbled toward the exit, using the row-seats to right myself while my body tried to fall. I bounced down the aisle like a pinball but managed to get through the doors. I staggered into the lobby. Freedom achieved, I took a huge gulp of air. Then I passed out and landed on the tiles, face down.
When I woke up there was a kid sitting by my side, sweating and breathing hard. I looked up at him and said “Pussy.”
But these use-cops-to-scare-the-kids programs really are effective. To this day I won’t drive down any street that has fence posts. I was saddened to learn recently that the police-led DARE program was deemed ineffective by The Surgeon General, the GAO, and the American Psychological Association.
Thank you Officer McScaretactic. I hope your pension survived that last round of budget cuts. That must be a scary thing to deal with.