Does Every 15 Minutes Scare Kids “To Death”?

Can you be scared straight into sobriety? If not that, can you be scared into refraining from driving drunk?

Many high schools are experimenting with these questions.

One such “scared sober” experiment was conducted at El Camino High School in the beach town of Oceanside, CA. One morning, students at El Camino High School were suddenly told by police and school officials that several of their classmates had just died in a drunk driving accident. The students were allowed to grieve and share their grief with their classmates for two hours. They were then taken to the auditorium where officials played a video which they claimed was an actual video of the accident aftermath. After watching the video, the stunned students and teachers were told that the entire accident was a hoax. The mock scenario was staged as part of the program entitled, “Every 15 Minutes.”

Every 15 Minutes” is a widely accepted method of exposing high school students across the nation to the real life loss, grieving and ultimate consequences of drunk driving. The web site for the program states:

Every 15 Minutes offers real-life experiences without the real-life risks. This emotionally charged program is an event designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol. This powerful program will challenge students to think about drinking, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved.

This sounds like a great program. I looked at the lesson plan on their web site. This plan is more in the nature of guided education. The program outlines very specific steps that are to be taken in the notification and disclosure process to ensure no one goes off the emotional deep end. It bears little resemblance to the “shock and awe” tactics used by the El Camino School District. There is no doubt that what El Camino High School did was emotionally charged and dramatic, but at what cost? California certainly leads the nation in putting a liberal spin on issues. Where do we draw the line between liberal and “reckless cruelty”? Did they review the medical histories of these kids to ensure none of them would suffer medical or psychological problems as a result of this trauma? If this had happened in Texas, the plaintiff’s bar would be circling like vultures to sue the school district on behalf of the traumatized students.

There are certainly some compelling arguments and statistics for the use of such scare tactics. The stats on teen drunk driving are enough alone to scare you. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NTSA), almost 28 percent of teens 15-20 killed in accidents in 2005 had a been drinking. Teen drivers are responsible for twelve percent of all road-related deaths, yet only consist of less than ten percent of the population as a whole according to the Insurance Institute for Health and Safety.

When you process the above statistics, little doubt is left that programs like Every 15 Minutes may be a good thing overall. You would think they certainly can not hurt anything. How long they deter teen drinking or lifetime drunk driving is unknown. There are no solid stats. Is it a safe assumption that none of the El Camino teens drove drunk the day/night they were traumatized? Should we all applaud that goal achieved?

Win the war, don’t even plan for the battle.

What about the mutated version used by the El Camino School District? Sobriety at any cost? The kids are traumatized. Do the majority leave campus talking about how they were traumatized? Are they now more aware of the problem through the alcohol awareness education? Are they more skeptical and angry as a result of the deception? Is that what they will remember a week from now, a year from now, ten years from now. In the short term, some of them may turn to alcohol just to deal with the stress of the hoax.

I have a uniquely personal viewpoint since I am a current member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I have listened to hundreds of tragic stories relating to drinking. Many of these stories relate to drunken driving accidents and arrests. Some of these stories are from teenagers. Everyone in AA has been “scared” into the program for one reason or another. In all the terrible stories I have heard, not once has someone said they were attending AA because someone else’s tragedy caused them to question their own choices. What does that tell you? It tells me that alcohol awareness education is not a “scared straight” issue or even an “Every Fifteen Minutes” issue. For it to be effective, alcohol awareness education must focus on the long term.

In order to get an insider opinion as to the effectiveness of such “scared straight” type programs, I contacted Paul Nagy, director of the Duke Addictions Program at the Department of Psychiatry in the Duke University Medical Center. He had this to say:

I am familiar with similar approaches to “scaring kids straight.” My comments are as follows;

1) Unless a clinical study is conducted to evaluate this program’s efficacy, it would not be accurate to call the program “effective” even if there are anecdotes to suggest it is so. Without such scientific studies, interventions are not considered “evidence-based” by State and Federal Agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA).

2) I am familiar with research that uses similar approaches (e.g. DARE) which shows consistent evidence that scare tactics such as those used in the 15 Minutes program have little-sustained effectiveness.

3) There is some science informed perspectives that suggest that these approaches actually have unintended detrimental effects. For example, Nora Volkow the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse talks publicly about how adolescents are “hard-wired” to be risk takers and have suggested that these kinds of scare approaches actually entice some kids to test the veracity of the information.

4) My own perspective is that if kids react at all, the effect is fairly short-lived. My experience is also that many adolescents will see this and express an omnipotent “it can’t happen to me” attitude in response.

5) I might also worry that this approach has the potential to activate a post-traumatic response in some cases. This type of intervention could result in chemical changes in the brain that establishes a very powerful emotional memory which could prove potentially damaging. For example, vulnerable kids can show a regressive pattern of behavior in response to strong emotional stimuli. Further, as a parent of a teen, I would likely raise an objection to the school if my kid were exposed to this kind of experience without his or our informed consent.

Winthrop W. Gilman, chairman of The Mychal Institute, had this to say:

“My immediate reaction as someone who has studied the use and abuse of alcohol for more than sixty years is this. Adolescents are very impressionistic. They will immediately recognize that if the hoax is needed to make a drastic impression, it can not be of any real importance. The shock and scare tactics used by these programs are more associative with the adrenaline rush at Halloween time in a haunted house environment. If the experience is not real, it is of no real value. When smokers are exposed to the diseased lung tissue of a deceased smoker, they are regularly seen lighting up a cigarette as they leave the autopsy room.”

So there you have it. While programs such as Every 15 Minutes have the right intent, do they achieve anything in the long term? Do they risk doing more harm than good to the child? Is anyone even using sample groups to monitor children throughout their lives to see who lives, who dies, who becomes an alcoholic, etc? If this is not done, all we will ever be able to do is say is that it sounds good for the papers and parents. All else will be pure speculation

What do you think?



44 Responses

  1. I think it’s a fine program, do the people from AA think that someones friend or loved one must actually DIE before they enter the program. Also, AA is not the final answer.. I’ve been there and listened to it all. I haven’t had a drink in over 15 years. I wasn’t scared into it, I wanted it and I attended 1 AA meeting and left early. After seeing the people in there and listening to the brain washing “Cult” like gab.. I realized some people needed that and I didn’t. Also, I did not like the fact that they put down psychiatrists and short term use of medications. (No I’m not a psychiatrists or related to one or going to one.) But, I think that if people are quitting alcohol “Cold Turkey” so to speak, they need counseling in addition to friends at AA. They’re not Doctors. Most of the people who start off at AA fall off the so called wagon.. Why? Probably because they may have needed counseling and maybe a short term medication to help them with their withdrawal symptoms and take the edge off.. Just my 3 cents from my long years of friends whom I have helped quit the habit.. 🙂

  2. Damn! What a great program — that's a fantastic idea. I think being scared is the only thing teens will respond to. That's why D.A.R.E. was such a huge failure — having some cop come in and tell you drugs are bad and to "just say no", only excited everyone about the opportunities to do them. It's coming face to face with a recovered junkie who lost everything and hearing his/her horrifying stories of hitting rock bottom — that kids respond to.

  3. This is a great program, but will it stop drinking and driving? No, not after someone has had that 5th or 6th drink, when they believe they are invincible.

  4. It’s bullshit, scaring kids straight about drugs, sex, or alcohol never works. All it dose it teaches kids that everybody is doing it, which leaves the impression that because everybody is doing it the act is some how ok.

  5. This is done all over the country, I know in Washington State this is used at a lot of schools, although under a different name.

    Everyone knows about it now though, so each year a couple kids think it’s real, then the rest in the class just tell them it’s the anti-drunk driving skit.

    I’m sure it’d be effective if no one expected it, but now with text messaging and the like, something as interesting as this would never be kept secret.

  6. I am a college student now and watched the every 15 minutes presentation the weekend before prom. I think more people were happy that we got out of class pretty much an extra half day just to watch some phony program. It was rediculus how popular kids were once again chosen to take part in the “accident” and their dumb girlfriends were weeping when they knew it was fake. I know for a fact it did not deter me or many others from drinking and driving. It probably gave us more time to plan the events for prom weekend as we were spectating the “rescue workers”. The coolest thing was probably watching fire fighters use the “jaws of life” to get people out of cars.

  7. I think it has the potential to be a really great program. But they run the risk of losing impact with the cheap theatrics of things like the Grim Reaper and the line of kinds in black shirts at the accident scene. Remembering back to myself in High School I know that I would have felt like I was being talked down to. The impact of the scene itself, if presented realistically and without artificial emphasis would leave a more lasting impression. All of the material after the accident scene was well done. The impact on the parents and the repercussions on the driver. Well done. I hope the program continues and saves some lives.

  8. This is a cruel and unusual thing to do to anybody. The entire concept of these “lessons” being taught at school is flawed and should be ended. Please, schools, stick to math, reading, writing, etc. Don’t waste your time making students fear the world, let life itself do that. They are known as LIFE LESSONS because they are taught through LIFE not government schools.

  9. What about the student’s who were enacted as deceased? They don’t get to feel the full impact of this program..

    This will have as much impact as the Truth commercials.

    I’m sure the temporarily deceased and their friends will get a good laugh at this program over a few drinks.

  10. As someone near the age of the students subjected to this program, I was offended. Convincing me that one of my class-mates had died, and subsequently telling me that it was a hoax perpetrated “for my own good,” would cause me only anger at those involved in the program. Drunk driving is a serious problem among people my age, and the solution lies in a societal change in which Alcohol consumption by minors is no longer a taboo–and therefore desirable–behavior. Lying to students is not a constructive means to that end.

  11. I can only talk in my name, but I sure as hell wasn’t scared away from drugs and alcohol after the whole D.A.R.E. fun… And I mean come on! Isn’t this just a terrorist technique? I have to agree with Michael, this is pretty well researched, and I totally agree with the two guys cited. Where do these stuff get decided at all? Who tries drugs, who drinks and drives. My dad had a pretty nasty DUI accident, and still, I do the same. It was a pretty big trauma (thank the higher power (hehe) nothing serious happened to him).

    I am omnipotent.

  12. 15 minutes won’t work on most people.

    Listen if your going to be scared straight or change your ways D.A.R.E. Will already have worked on you. If you arn’t going to be scared straight, 15 minutes won’t work. We had “15 minutes” in our school, basically the kids were selected and weren’t allowed to talk for the rest of the day. It was cool and creepy, but it only lasts for a day or two. No effect after that.

    The shock and awe style is a better version but not even much better.

    The big problem is this, when you analyze the issue (and I am naturally over analytical) you realize that’s 1 kid every 15 minutes. Then you realize there’s like a million schools in the US (ok I was stupid as well) That means it’ll likely never happen here (only 1 student at our school died, though it’s likely to involve some drugs).

    The big problem is some kids are always going to go for the alcohol, it doesn’t matter what you do to them. Some kids are never going to go for underage drinking (me for one).

    That being said “15 minutes” as it was done in my school wasn’t a horrible thing and it felt interesting the first couple years they did it. The biggest thing they show is that often it’s not only the student who dies, but it’s the student’s friend/sibling/family/whatever. Though in the end, I don’t think it changed anyone’s mind, but if it did, it probably moved them towards sobriety, which isn’t a bad thing.

    This all being said something should be done. 1 in 4 kids will die while intoxicated? That’s unacceptable, but the answer is the hard part.

  13. I think this is a horrible idea you shouldn’t tell kids that several of their class mates have died to teach them something.
    Yes it is an important lesson, but that is the wrong way to go about it. My school this year had lost two of its students to suicide. My school is a everybody-knows-everybody type of school. Everyone was hurt, kids were walking around the hall ways crying; my school was crippled for quite awhile.
    If you walked up to a student who had lost two of their friends or anyone for that matter in the past and told them straight out they lost several more people in their lives. They would be devastated.
    Suicide, drunk driving, over dose, etc are all just different ways of someone died.
    Deaths are a serious thing, you should not toy with anyones mind when it comes to it.

  14. This program is retarded, and the people who think it’s a good idea obviously don’t remember what it’s like to be a teenager. Yes, during the program the kids will be scared shitless and all of them will be swearing that they will never drink and drive, but as soon as it’s revealed as a hoax the only feeling left will be anger at the people who put them through all this drama.

    Being a teenager is tough enough without manufacturing fake emotional trauma. The correct solution is hidden in the propaganda of every drug campaign, “to help kids make MATURE decisions”. To make a mature decision a person must be mature, so if you want teenagers to make mature decisions you need to help them develop maturity. This works out because teenagers WANT to mature–half of their disagreements with authority are over how much responsibility they are mature enough to handle.

    How do you help a teenager gain maturity? First realize that you can’t give teach them maturity, it’s not math. The only thing you can do is help them teach themselves maturity by giving them respect and responsibility. Telling lies to these kids demonstrates a lack of respect, and there is no faster way to make teens stop listening than to disrespect them. Do the opposite to gain their respect: Tell them the truth. Not the scare tactic style “OMG IF YOU DRINK AND DRIVE YOU WILL DIE!!11” ‘truth’ either.

    Show them the straight statistics about drunk driving and let them make their own decision. How many people drive home under the influence every weekend and DON’T have an accident? Parents should REQUEST, not demand, that their kids not drink and drive. When you request something instead of demanding it, you show that you are respecting their right to choose. You can’t force a teen–if force were really possible there would be no teen drinking deaths–but you can respect them and give them the responsibility of making the choice. Over time this will help them mature, and with that maturity will come better decisions.

    You have to accept that sometimes teens will make a wrong decision, and there’s nothing you can do about it because it’s part of the learning process. If you don’t accept this, teens will push you away (read: they’ll stop listening to you) so that they CAN make their own decisions. You can’t stop them, but if you don’t resist you can guide them.

    Please consider the source: As a fairly recent victim of various failed attempts at teenager control (I’m 24 years old). I’m young enough to remember what it was like to be a teen, yet old enough to analyze my reactions with objective maturity. If you want to know how to get through to a teenager, talk to the people they immitate: anyone cool who’s a couple years older than them.

  15. This reminds me of the South Park episode, in which the parents hire actors to play the kids’ “future selves.” The actors pretend to be complete screwups to teach the kids to never do drugs.

    The entire point of the episode was that liberal thinking on such issues is that “the ends justify the means,” the ends being lying to our kids, and the means being reducing drug use or alcohol-related auto deaths.

    I personally agree. I think if we want our children to make MATURE choices about alchohol and driving, we should TREAT THEM WITH MATURITY. Misleading children in the way that the California program does is inconsiderate of their emotions, condescending, and insulting.

    Making presentations emotionally impactful is probably more effective than displaying rote facts, but I think it should be done in a mature and respectful way.

    PS lower the drinking age to address the underlying problem.

  16. This is nothing more than the usual “might makes right” philosophy rearing its ugly head against the most vulnerable of our members of society, youth. Scaring children into submission to your whims, even with the best of intentions, is a crime against human rights. You do not have the right to manipulate anyone’s emotions by telling them their acquaintances, friends or even loved ones are dead. Children are not your little psychological play things for you to experiment upon, they are people who must be taught by example and through reason, not by force. It is our duty as adults to guide them in doing the right thing, to acquire the wisdom to advise them when necessary, and to set an example. Justice, fairness, and cooperation among people are the things we should be teaching them to demand for themselves and their world, not your bitterness, your fear, your immorality and your violence.

  17. I went to a high school in Orange, CA and this occurred twice.

    It wasn’t just “sudden”, they literally took over the street outside of school, set up a fake accident, got a smoke screen, and over huge speakers blared the sound of tires screeching and two cars crashing.

    It’s an emotional experience; some people are just better at hiding it and avoiding it than others. Regardless of who you are, though, I know it had an effect of every person watching it. The parents cried because they never wanted it to happen. They took one student and actually put him in a jail cell for awhile, because he agreed to. And IIRC, they took a girl to the morgue to be ID’d by her parents.

    There’s no getting around the fact that no one wants to deal with death of a loved one, and they put that fact front and center, then smeared it in our faces for good measure.

    Oh, and they used Evanescence for emotional impact as well. I think it was “My Immortal.” There were very few students who, after that, could listen to that song without almost breaking tears.

    Yea, it’s effective. Yea, it’s worth it. No, it’s not child abuse.

  18. What a culture we live in, where lying is condoned, even encouraged, in the name of promoting an agenda.

    Also Bush.

  19. to another users comment: how do you scare kids out of sex? “jennie gave joey a blowjob and then proceeded to slice off his penis”??

  20. I’m not an attorney but Mr. Cuban is. As a layerson the first words that pop into my mind are “fraud” and “conspiracy”. Utter disrespect for young people and for what? An experiment.

  21. That’s ridiculous. I am a high school student, and I can tell you that that kind of stunt would only piss people off. Think about it, you are LYING to the students, setting an example to them that lying is “okay” if it gets a “positive result”. Depending on how one determines what a “positive outcome” of an action is, students could logically assume that for example, lying on a test (cheating” is “okay” because it helps him do well in school, which could be determined as a positive result.

  22. I’d be more interested to track how many kids use this to add to the already full larder of ‘teen agnst’ to say that everything adults say is a lie – and use this to enable even worse behavior than before.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a kid who otherwise couldn’t afford a lawyer decided to see if Arson was a proper editorial response against the school. Sounds nutty – but so are most school shootings by kids on the edge with limited or lacking perspective.

    You want to help push that along? Good for you! I’ll watch the results on the evening news and keep score for ya.

  23. As you said, the 15 minutes version or the El Camino version can not reliably determine or guarantee that no one goes off the emotional deep end. It is irrespnsible to imply that the scare tactic is safe for every audience.

    Furthermore, learned behavior is not successful using scare tactics. Sure the participants will remember the scare, but few if any will remember that the point is to not drink and drive. It is frat party logic and is a silly, irresponsible use of school money.

    Well written and reserached article by the way Brian.

    Michael M.s last blog post..Per Sempre Amore Tonya!

  24. I think this is cruel and unusual, especially if the students are told names of supposed “dead” classmates. Would it stop them from drinking? No. Drinking and driving? Maybe. There is no connection to Alcoholics Anonymous, however, because true alcoholics will drink no matter what the consequences or threats. Alcoholism is a disease. Teenage drunk driving is often a dumb, impulsive, rebellious act. There’s a big difference. If this terrifying exercise saves one life from a drunk driving accident, then I guess it’s worth it. As long as the school has some good lawyers, ’cause parents are going to SUE!

    Lilys last blog post..hmm…

  25. Won’t work….we had shit like this in high school.I rember once you relise they lied i was really pissed off..This is just terrible. Making up bullshit lies like that.Teenagers are not stupid.Don’t insult thier intelligents.

  26. I’ve had two friend’s killed by two DUI drivers. I wish those two drivers could have been “shocked” by an every 15 minutes program before they killed my friends. I can’t believe people are mad about this! Have a friend or family member killed and then you will know what mad really is! Without a program like this, teens will not get the message and they will think it could never happen to them. A few hours of emotional trauma may be what prevents a whole life of trauma! Good job to the teachers, firefighters and cops!

  27. this is bull you can’t go around lying to people like that even if it does help them to not drink and drive do you people relize that this is why kids have so many trust issues …..the more kids or even teenaers are lied to the less they trut people and the more trouble they get into


    i moved to a town that has the billboards everywhere and i have lived here over a year and i drove all over town prom night and never once saw a road block


  28. by the way i also lost my step dad to a drunk driver and lost an uncle in jail because he was an alchoholic

    so those arguments don’t fly

  29. Falsely announcing the deaths of students like this is NOT a part of the “Every 15 Minutes” presentations. This is the result of some jackass who thought they could do better. It is psychological assault, and it should be a criminal act.

    Brian Cuban, as far as your inclusion of statements about your involvement with AA goes, you should shut your GD mouth. Have you no sense of responsibility to people in recovery, or to people who might one day need recovery at all? Try reading the book. It’s anonymous for good reason, so that people like you are not able to damage AA’s value.

    ANONYMOUS, so that, like the first reply to this article, your statements in the article don’t confuse people into thinking this was some sort of AA program, and mistakenly use it as a slam on AA. ANONYMOUS, so that people like you do not profit (even tangentially, by writing articles which include your imaginary “special knowledge” of AA). ANONYMOUS, you fool, so that people don’t equate stupid non-AA programs with AA.

    You need to delete this story’s mention of AA entirely, since you are not anonymous, and especially delete your entire post about your “year with AA”. AA does not need or want the Brian Cuban brand on it. You are specifically told this at nearly every meeting: “ANONYMOUS at the level of press, radio, and film.” But you know better? No, you don’t. As you have admitted, you haven’t even gotten past Step 3, and may never do so. The other nine steps are what, a joke, a waste, unnecessary, not for every alcoholic? Despite all the acclaim for your “bravery” in the comments section for your “year” article, you are not AA, nor are your experiences AA. If you want to talk about your recovery, fine, talk about your recovery from alcoholism. Leave AA and its CONFIDENTIAL meetings out of it entirely.

    ANONYMOUS specifically so that people don’t look at the Brian Cuban story, with its “I will be honest here. There are a lot of things about the AA philosophy that I have not bought into” warp and twist, and buy into your lack of a program as a way to stay sober. Really, you simply must clean this mess that you’ve created up. You have no idea whom you may or have harmed because you decided you know better than everyone else in AA, including the first 100 people who got sober, and wrote the book that has saved millions of lives.

    Everyone doesn’t need AA. Every alcoholic doesn’t need AA. But it’s not up to you to break AA’s anonymity so that you can use your AA experiences as writing fodder. You help no one by doing it, and you will never know how many you have hurt.

    23 years sober from alcohol and clean from mainlining crystal meth Nov. 13, 2008. And yes, I heard the anti-psych-meds blather too, from people who also were not doctors, and they have shit for brains.

  30. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the final paragraph, Brian, which I did include over on your year post:

    BTW, grasshopper, being an old-timer in AA is not a bad thing, nor does it always produce bitter, judgemental people who have nothing better to do than to mess with newcomers. Sometimes it just means we are living the program and benefitting from it and have something to share, if it is sought. I’m assuming your opening this up for Replies is seeking replies, but I wouldn’t want to make an ass out of you or me (”assume”).

  31. Can you imagine if a parent wanted to “teach” a similar lesson to their child by LYING that the other parent or a grandparent or their child’s best friend was killed by a drunk driver? Can you imagine how quickly child protective services could be involved?

    What about trust? Is there a faster way for teens to distrust those in a position of authority?

    Granted, the creators of this deception may have had good intentions, but their logic isn’t operating at an adult level. Rather, their reasoning is that of a very immature adolescent, therefore making them guilty of child abuse.

    Is it any wonder more parents and teens choose to homeschool?

  32. I am a student who participated in the e15m program at El Camino High. I know it was an amazing program and I think what happened was beneficial. I’ve read many comments from ranting parents who think this is too traumatizing for student and they shouldn’t be lied to. Blah Blah Blah… For all you parents who think your child is a “good son/daughter,” I’ve got news for you. Your son or daughter faces these kinds of decisions every day. To drink or not, to accept the joint or not, to drive under the influence or not. When you may think they’re going to spend the night at a friends house on a friday night, your thoughts of them being a perfect child bind you. Too many parents are so ignorant, they can’t tell they’re being lied to. Your son or daughter goes to parties with alcohol and drugs. They do things you tell them not to. You’re so blinded by this imaginary vision that they’re playing X Box, or reading the newest Cosmo magazine at some friends house being safe and pleasant, but really, they’re out partying and having the time of their young-adult life! I know… I’m a teenager. I know what goes on. Obviously, these parents who take so much pride in their parenting “skills” don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! Just because you sit your child down and have a talk with them, it does not mean they’re going to listen. Kids these days don’t listen to authority figures anyway! They need someone or something to kick them in the ass and wake them up! This is reality. Kids these days think they’re invincible! They think they can do anything. A lot of them don’t understand.

    Also, being a student at El Camino High, I haven’t noticed any change in the student life. Sure it was a big deal for a week or so, but seriously, everything went back to normal. People just like to waste time and rant over something that doesn’t even matter. It wasn’t that big of a deal.

  33. They did this at our school

    and for everyone who says its a waste of time is wrong i know fro a fact that everyone in the mock accident will never drink and drive. my sister was a part of it and i know I will never drink and drive because it made such a huge impact on me

  34. I am very saddened to read all the comments that have been posted about the Every 15 Minutes program.

    When the program started in the 1990's every 15 minutes someone really did die of an alcohol related incident. Our numbers now are approximately every 30 minutes, is this acceptable?

    How can you speak so unintelligently about a program that you obviously do not have any real knowledge about. You don't even offer any VALID suggestions/advice for the programs improvement.

    I coordinate the program in my city and I watch the tears stream down the faces of the students and parents who are involved in the program.

    The program is not a lie and we are not lying to anyone. When a Grim Reaper, with officers, enters a classroom to take a student from class how is this a lie? We have not deceived you in any way. They are, however, represting a death due to a DUI related incident. There is no way anyone should believe this to be real and that this student is actually dead now.

    When the students and parents watch the "mock" DUI crash scene there are bleachers, speakers, onlookers and officers standing to the side. It is very apparent this is not real.

    However what you will see is a DUI crash that is made to look real with the Firefighters, Officers, Fatal Detail, Medical Personnel and even the Coroner all attending to the scene. This is what we do and to the onlookers they will see what appears to be an actual DUI scene.

    What they will also see is familiar faces in the vehicles. School students are being utilized as the drunk student, minor injured student, major injured student and the deceased at the scene. This gets very upsetting to those who can look at this and realize that this COULD happen, to anyone. We are not invincible and neither are you.

    This takes many months of planning and each of the volunteer students and parents have consented to the program in it's entirety. The parents of the volunteer students agree to receive a death notification of their child.

    Even knowing this is "mock" they are still hit emotionally and are lucky to hug and kiss their child the next day, at the conclusion of the program.

    We can created a scene that appears real because, unfortunately we have seen too many of them!

    We will give death notifications because, unfortunately we have given them!

    We will allow a parent/loved one cry on our shoulders because, unfortunately we have!

    The parents and teenagers that have participated in our Every 15 Minutes program have all shared their gratitude for allowing them to participate and be a part of this every emotional program. What they are getting is the life experience wihtout the real life experience and they are truly blessed for being a part of this, even to save one life.

    It's almost like they are given a second chance after being told a loved one has died. How does a parent truly survive at the loss of a child? It's our job to protect our children and when we have to give a parent a true death notificatin because of a bad choice their child had made, it's just as devistating to us.

    As a parent myself myself, it is our responsiblilty to guide their child to make the right choices. Yes, our children will make up their own minds and make their own choices, which we will have no control over. But we are still responsible to do our best to lead them to make the right choices.

    I truly hope that those who do not agree with the program and say that they will continue to drink and drive are lucky enough to never have to say "I didn't think it would happen to me". Because unfortunately, there are too many who have said that. None of us are invincible. We may not be the one who drinks and drives but we're not invincible to the other driver on the road who is drinking and driving.

    Please help get the message that drinking and driving does kill. Don't be so naive to think that 'it doesn't happen to you'.

    Many of my sponsors are parents who thought the same thing. At each of my programs I cry as I listen to their stories about losing their child or loved one to a drunk driver. No matter how many times I hear their tragic story I will cry and consider them some of the bravest people I have ever met. They tell their story to the students/teenagers and parents in hopes that their story will not be lost upon deaf ears.

    They truly care and wished they got a second chance!

  35. Scare tactics? Right. Just look at how well “Reefer Madness” worked.

    When you LIE to people you have betrayed their trust, why would they listen to you again? Give people FACTS.

  36. I am curerntly a student at a high school where we experienced in the "every fifteen minutes" program this year. Firstly, I would like to say that we were NOT, may I repeat NOT falsely informed that our friends/fellow students had died. We were very aware that what was happening was staged, and the accident scene in the school parking lot obviously pre-organized. The most shock we got out of it was the car accident, because it showed us what COULD happen if you drink and drive. It was realistic only because it was set up by those who have to clean up accidents like it every day, and so closely resembled the scene of an accident. As for the parents being "informed of their childs death", this is true, but they are notified before the week of the program.

  37. I've been a part of the program, and not only was it completely ineffective, many of the kids at my school did not even know anything at all was going on. It was a complete waste of time and money.

  38. Personally, as a fellow 12 stepper (of a different program, although I'm intimately aware of AA and have attended many many meetings) and participant in the every 15 Minutes program, I can't agree with you on this. Medically speaking, not to mention from the prospective of the Big Book (for those of you who don't know the program, the Big Book is kind of the AA Bible for lack of a better word) there is a distinct difference between someone who is or will become an alcoholic/addict and someone who drinks recreationally. The alcoholic/addict genetic function is materially different than that of others. Perhaps these cases are, in essence, unavoidable if you will. However, I can easily say that for the thirteen participants from my school, being made to "die," cut off communication with everyone, watch videos and look at photos of real life alcohol related accidents, and stand up in front of your friends and tell them what you experienced certainly had a sizable impact on our views of drunk driving. I went through the program about 12 years ago, and as a current graduate student I still remember the pictures, the words, and the advice (I know, a bad word in 12 step, lol) given during this session over a decade ago. I can honestly say, in part due to this program, I have never driven drunk nor have I ridden with a drunk driver. Why? Because I don't want to be the cause of the next "example b" photo for the next Every 15 Minutes session. Was I traumatized? No. It made me think about something that I otherwise wouldn't have.

    I am currently working with a local municipality on developing drug and substance abuse and treatment programs and as such I am going to suggest that we attempt to adapt this program to fit our needs as well. I hope that more schools host the Every 15 Minutes program, drama plays and all, in its entirety. It is sorely needed.

    1. With all due respect, I consider that pretty much text book-AA hypocrisy. "the only requirement for membership to AA is a desire to stop drinking"-nothing else, End of Story -there is no distinguishing between levels of drinking or whether it is "medical' or psychological.

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