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Immune to tragedy
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There has been a car accident and one student lies on the hood of the car covered in “blood.” As I stand there watching, firefighters use the Jaws of Life to pry open the doors of the car, while students nearby act seemingly unfazed by their screaming classmate and unconscious friend being carried off to safety. The students know this is not real. They know it is their school’s year to host the Every 15 Minutes drunk driving educational program, but their classmates are in that car screaming and covered in blood and I did not see one person shed a tear.  In fact, the general mood at the local high school was jovial during the staged tragedy.
This is not to say that these students don’t care about their fellow classmates or that they take the Every 15 Minutes program seriously, because they do. They are just part of a generation of teens that have become desensitized by media outlets, television and video games. Teens are so used to seeing violence, death and crime in a variety of media outlets that they have trouble making an emotional connection to what they see.
“These venues are filled with violent and aggressive behavior. Guns are everywhere. Apparently, without much thought or regret, people are machine-gunned or blown into pieces. Over time, teens become desensitized,” states an article on the MassGeneral Hospital for Children at Harvard Medical School Web site. “Eventually, these actions may appear to be normal and acceptable. Many contend that such desensitization spills over into other areas of life. If teens can sit and passively watch such violence, are they more likely to become callous, uncaring adults? Will they be comfortable with acts that hurt others?”
Violence has taken over the majority of media outlets setting the unrealistic tone for teens that murders, crime and violence only take place on the movie screen. I am also guilty of this overload of violence, as I fill my off time watching murder mysteries in television programs “CSI” and “Criminal Minds.” But I am still well aware that these things do take place in our world.  
The scary part is that most teens today don’t know where to draw the line between reality and fantasy. Most think that these horrible tragedies could never happen to them and if Tom Cruise can save the world then they can too. Some would even consider such violence as normal because violence surrounds their everyday life in television, video games and the Internet.
This numbness to violence became more apparent after I watched the movie “Taken” with some friends of mine. One friend said she did not believe that the plot in the movie could happen in real life. My friend’s Pollyanna idea of the world is, in part, created and enforced by the media industry that instills that fairytale endings are normal and tragedies in movies never happen to real people.
In the movie “Taken,” a young American girl travels to France with her friend and they are both kidnapped by slave traders. When I lived in Italy, an Italian girl — let alone an American girl who stands out — could not walk alone without guys ganging up on that girl. Even the Italians were cautious and well aware of the tragedies that could happen to them.
My goal is not to be a Debbie-downer but to open the eyes of our youth. Bad things happen and this is why the organizers of the Every 15 Minutes program take their job seriously and stage an authentic-as-possible drunk driving accident including the peers of those students. Hopefully, local teens will heed the warning Every 15 Minutes is supposed to be and not find out how real the consequences of drunk driving can be.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.