Would Booze Goggles Avert Alcohol Awareness Class

by: Mike Miller

Believe me when I saw there is nothing I would not do if it would keep kids or anyone from ever trying alcohol. But giving youngsters “beer goggles” to show them how alcohol affects the body and mind might not be the right idea. Judge for yourself.

Gary Kassay is a DARE officer in Casper, Wyoming. When he walks into a classroom he always asks, “Hello class, what are we doing this week?”

A handful of eager arms went up.

“We get to play with the drunk goggles!” a student said.

And with that the students began seeing the world through a drunk’s eyes. The kids sure think it’s fun!

There were three activities the students — broken into groups of seven — did with the goggles on: catch a small softball; zigzag through four orange cones; and walk a straight line just like in a field-sobriety test.

When the fifth-graders put on the goggles, they saw the world through impaired eyes.

“They give the kids a really good idea what if feels like to be drunk,” Kassay said before the class.

A student preparing to put on the goggles liked their appearance: “These are cool,” he said.

The first to try catching the ball from Kassay with the goggles on caught it. The class cheered. The next student put on the goggles and the ball bounced off her head. The class, again, cheered.

Another student tried walking through the cones while wearing the goggles. By the time he finished, he had knocked over every cone.

Kassay and Scott, the DARE officer with the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, go into classrooms around Casper and Natrona County in Wyoming every week. DARE — Drug Abuse Resistance Education — is a nationwide police-led series of classroom lessons. Kassay and Scott usually get 45 minutes with a specific class. Their goal: Educate kids on the dangers of alcohol and drugs, bullying and other risky practices.

When interacting with elementary-aged students, Scott and Kassay focus on the health risks associated with tobacco, drug and alcohol use. When they speak with junior-high classes, they focus on risky choices and peer pressure.

Halfway through the presentation, Kassay asked the students, “How many of you guys think you could safely ride your bike while impaired?”

A few boys in the class held up their hands, giggling.

“You were one of the ones who knocked over the cones!” Kassay told one of the boys laughing.

“Seriously,” Kassay told the group. “As much fun as we’re having, who thinks they could drive a car impaired?” No hands went up.

The class then finished the exercise; everyone, surrounded by their classmates’ laughter, trying to catch the ball, walks through the cones and walk the line.

The best laughs, though, came when their teacher tried to walk through the cones with the goggles on. She knocked them all over and Kassay dubbed her a “cone killer.”

Is this method for teaching students effective? My guess is now they see drinking as fun. Kids get preached to all the time about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. You hope the message gets through and keeps them from ever starting it. I would like to hear what you all think about this idea.