Pepper spray is usually associated with police, criminals, protesters, and demonstrations. It's usually seen as a violent way to suppress resistance or a tool for self-defense; rarely do we hear of someone voluntarily getting pepper sprayed, yet that's exactly what these high school students signed up for.
As part of their Criminal Science Technology class, students at Barberton High School in Ohio brought home permission slips asking their parents to allow them to be pepper sprayed by local law enforcement so that they could better understand certain police protocols.
"On Friday, May 12, 2017, as part of our defensive tactics training that we have covered this year, I will introduce the use and effects of law enforcement OC 'Pepper Spray' to the students. Each student will have the option to be swabbed or receive a quick 'burst' to the facial area with this chemical agent. It will cause irritation and a burning sensation to the eyes and nasal area for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour.
This is a controlled and safe experience for the students and is completely voluntary.
Please sign your option below and return the form by Monday, May 8, 2017.
According to the Cleveland Patch, the parents of about 15 students allowed their children to participate in the experiment. What happened next was caught on video for the world to see.
Students lined up against a wall and were voluntarily pepper sprayed in the face by a police officer repeating, "Stop resisting, please comply." It's a tad awkward and very jarring.
Initially, the students have little reaction, but then, as the pepper spray goes to work, the screams begin. The students begin to cry out in agony while flailing their arms. Someone warns them not to open their mouths, but it's too late for most of the high schoolers.
To those who have been pepper sprayed, the scene is familiar in some ways, but entirely alien in others. A uniformed police officer walks down the line of students offering them milk and sympathy. (Milk and water can help reduce how long pepper spray stays in the body.)
"Students were required to have parental permission and consent in order to participate in the voluntary exercise," Superintendent Patti Cleary said in a statement to Cleveland Patch. "The intent of the training is to help the students gain an industry recognized credential in the law and public safety course curriculum that is offered by the Ohio Department of Education."
Let's hope that getting sprayed by kind police officers as part of a class project is as far as these student's experience with pepper spray goes.
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