Ellen Perlman was a GOVERNING staff writer and technology columnist.E-mail: email@example.com
Adults can talk, talk, talk about the stupid things teens shouldn't do. But how to get them to listen?
Ben Blasdel, the coroner for Franklin County, Washington, was tired of seeing the pain from the consequences of bad decisions teens make with drugs and alcohol and mixing those with driving. So he came up with an idea -- the "Beat the Reaper" video game. He won an award this week at the National Association of Counties annual meeting in Davidson County, Tennessee (Nashville), for creating and funding the CD. With no county money.
Blasdel's job is to educate people. And he'd prefer not to make tragic calls to parents in the middle of the night. To those ends, he spent nine years, and about $100,000 on the project, all of it from donations.
Teens who play the CD can make decisions for characters planning a night of fun when their parents are away. Or confronted with choices such as whether to go on a beer run or drink with friends, according to a story in a Washington paper. (I haven't had a chance to get my hands on a CD yet.)
They then can see potential consequences, such as losing a driver's license, being embarrassed in public. And the worst possible. A name on a tombstone. Good decisions lead to "rewards" such as going to the prom and living past high school.
"It actually lets them live the experience and takes them on a path to find out where that leads," said Peggy Haecker, executive director of the Benton Franklin Substance Abuse Coalition. "Then they can go back and relive it instead of having the consequences ruin their lives or other lives."
The CD includes words from a mother whose son took four pain killers and drank a half bottle of wine. And never woke up.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.