Editorial: Teen Maze teaches students the consequences of bad choices

We all want our teenagers to make the right decisions during that volatile time of their lives, but when you're that age, it can be difficult to do so, whether it is realizing the potential consequences of drinking and driving or being in risky relationships.

And let's face it, when you're in your teen years, it's hard not to think you know everything, that bad things happen to the other person, but never to yourself.

That's why we welcome the return of Teen Maze, a weeklong exercise at the North Georgia Fairgrounds for hundreds of 10th-graders in Dalton, Whitfield and Murray County schools. It is presented through the Dalton/Whitfield County Family Connections along with the help of a couple of hundred volunteers.

Staged much like a life-size board game, Teen Maze is designed to bring home in dramatic and emotionally stirring ways the consequences of making poor life choices in everyday situations. These include lessons on the loss of freedom, medical problems and even death.

For example, teens are the "participants" in a car wreck caused by an impaired driver while their peers watch the scene unfold, from the trauma of the wreck to the followup at the hospital and notification of next of kin.

The teens then move on to other stations, which may present them with the burdens of unexpectedly becoming a parent, while at another station students experience what happens when you commit a crime and the ensuing legal problems. The maze paths are randomly assigned. No two participants will have the same encounter.

As we said earlier, there are a couple hundred volunteers involved in this weeklong event. They include personnel from law enforcement, EMS, Hamilton Medical Center, county health departments, school systems plus nursing students and many others.

We applaud them for participating in Teen Maze, and we join them in wanting our teens to be able to experience having to make some of these choices without having real-life consequences

If this activity helps one teen avoid a bad consequence for something he or she does, it's all worth it.

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