Decision House encourages Indiana teens to make good choices

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At first glance, it looks like an all too familiar scene.  A drunk driving crash and a driver under suspicion for causing a deadly wreck, leaving a family devastated.  

But Monday, it was only a demonstration.  The victim, under the white sheet, is not real.  The suspect, being led away in handcuffs, was only acting.  The bottle of booze on top of the car and the casket are just props intended to drive home a point to an audience of teenagers.

"It definitely teaches me not to drive while intoxicated cause it can cause you to do things you don't intend to do," said 15-year-old freshman Jonathan Danford of Broad Ripple Magnet High School. 

The state fairgrounds hosted "Decision House", an interactive field trip for high school freshmen in Indianapolis.  A musical show, "Stand Up! - Change Teen Statistics" - encouraged teens to make healthy choices.  Others learned about public safety through hands-on demonstrations.  The event was the brainchild of Public Safety Director Troy Riggs and sponsored by the Department of Public Safety and the Indy Public Safety Foundation.

"I think there's a lot of negative connotations surrounding the police department. To go upstairs and see the search and rescue dogs, to see the SWAT team, to see a different side of it, I think is great for them to see," said John Marshall teacher McClain Musson.  "I purposely chose kids that I think - they have fantastic potential and they make decisions that aren't so great.  So, I purposely wanted kids here that it would make an impact  and they've really enjoyed it."

It was the re-creation of a drunk-driving crash and the pretend court appearance that the judge hopes will make an impression.

"They might not see the kinds of consequences just by reading it in the newspaper or seeing it on TV.  In this instance, they got to go to a scene, see bloody people who were hurt and killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver," said Marion County Superior Court Judge James Osborn.  "Whether it's seeing the scene of the crime, hearing the kind of sentence a person gets for that crime and seeing the consequences of the families who were involved,  should get their attention somewhere." 

"It did seem as close to real as they could possibly make it.  I think that did teach some kids about some things about how serious it can be," said Danford.

"It's exciting to see them excited about a field trip. Because a lot of time, they get to a field trip and it's a let-down.  And, this hasn't been a let-down.  It's awesome," said Musson.   

Students were given a handout of resources they could turn to during a crisis. See that list here.