Scared straight: TV characters who use scare tactics to teach children

Yahoo Contributor Network

Some parents choose to adopt a "scared straight" program for disciplining their kids. To make sure their children stay on the straight and narrow, parents and community leaders use scare tactics to make sure kids avoid illegal activities. The results can be somewhat mixed, but these scared straight programs always make for great TV viewing. Here are some prime examples.


In one episode of this USA comedy, Lassiter has been tasked with babysitting the deputy mayor's son. The deputy mayor hopes that Lassie can take his juvenile delinquent son under his wing and change his ways. Lassie keeps trying to set the kid right, but only Juliet is able to truly get through to the kid (by whispering an inaudible phrase in the kid's ear to scare him). What Juliet says is never revealed, but the delinquent does apologize to Lassie for misbehaving after she talks to him.

"Arrested Development"

While most kids who get the "scared straight" treatment are into drugs or violent crime, the kids in "Arrested Development" were scared into following more mundane rules like, "Always leave a note." George Sr. never was a very good father to his kids, preferring to teach them life lessons with the aid of his one-armed pal J. Walter Weatherman. Still, the messages didn't always get through: Lindsay assumed the message of the "always leave a note" lesson was actually "don't consume dairy products."


In one memorable flashback scene, Harry takes a young Dexter to see a criminal get executed. Harry warns Dex that if he ever deviates from the code of ethics he has laid down, Dex will end up being executed, too.

"The Office"

Not every scared straight program works. Case in point: Michael's attempt to scare his employees into thinking that their workplace was way nicer than being in prison. His plot fails, thanks in part to his goofy "Prison Mike" persona and his belief that real prisons are home to Dementors.

"Saving Grace"

In a particularly harrowing episode, Grace's niece went to a party with a friend. There, they did a lot of drugs, and the friend died. Grace, along with the girl's father, force Grace's niece to go to the morgue and see the corpse of her dead friend in the hopes that it would shock her into changing her ways.

Something similar also happened in an episode of "Crossing Jordan." Dr. Macy took his daughter to the morgue to show her what happens to people who end up on the wrong side of the law.

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