Police staging fake death scenes in front of teens? Must be prom season! Staged drunk-driving accidents—complete with faux-dead student bodies—have been a spring staple at U.S. high schools since at least the late 1990s. But in Las Vegas this year, cops put a new spin on the teen death demonstrations by incorporating purity culture. The lesson of last weekend's "Choose Purity" seminar was that girls who "get promiscuous" can wind up dead.
The event was co-sponsored by Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) and Victory Outreach Church, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
"Choose Purity" aimed to show young girls what can happen when they don't wait until marriage to have sex, according to Officer Regina Coward, president of the Nevada Black Police Association, who said she'd been asked by her church, Victory Outreach Church, to create a community event to go along with its abstinence message.
So what does Coward say happens? Typically four things: sexual assault, gangs, drugs and prostitution.
Avoid sex and avoid those perils, Coward said.
Wow. It takes a pretty rare combination of relentless negativity and reality denial to think rape, gang membership, drug addiction, or prostitution are the only four possible outcomes of premarital sex. Meanwhile, actual risks like pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI) are conspicuously absent from Coward's list of sex perils.
Naturally, Las Vegas cops totally co-signed on this message. They obliged the group of 125 parents and children with recorded video interviews with pimps and sex workers and photos of people who had lost limbs to meth lab explosions.
Performers from a group called "Toe Tag Monologues" also appeared at the event, demonstrating how diet pill abuse and the inevitable path from premarital sex to prostitution to an STI would land girls in body bags. Pictures from the event show cops helping with this demonstration, wheeling the body bags away on gurneys.
"It was a hodgepodge of unrelated fear mongering," Laura Deitsch, a Las Vegas health educator who attended, told the Sun. So far Deitsch is the only hero in this story, but she goes on to complain to the paper that the event wasn't inclusive enough of LGBTQ children, as if this is a message we'd want reaching a larger subset of teens and not complete drivel that just shouldn't exist. (Don't worry though, straight boys of Vegas, there's a "Choose Courage" event coming up for you.)
LVMPD sponsored the event but didn't put in any money, and cops who appeared volunteered their time. But still. What a ridiculous and wholly inappropriate message to have cops—in official LVMPD shirts, with guns in town—imparting to teens.