Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 23, 2014

Parents always scared children straight

Keith Kappes
The Independent

ASHLAND — The tactic of “scared straight” has been used for several years to shock misbehaving teenagers by exposing them to short stints in a jail or prison cell.

But that concept actually started when a mother first told a scary tale to keep her kids from doing something dangerous.

For me, it began when I cranked down the window in the back seat of our family sedan and stuck my arm out to feel the cool breeze or rain on my skin. I liked my hand flopping in the wind like a sail.

My mother heard the noise and immediately yelled that my arm was going to ripped off by a passing truck, just like had happened to a little boy from Willard.

Wow! The thought of my arm dangling from a truck bed was terrifying and I quickly pulled it inside.

A few days later, my little sister decided to do the same thing on the other side of the car and Mom told her it had happened to a little girl from Denton.

Still later, my brother pulled the arm-out-the-car-window trick and he was told it had happened to a young boy from Carter City.

We went to the Grayson carnival that summer, but I didn’t recall seeing any one-armed children.

I even asked a friend from Denton if she knew of any little girls missing an arm. She did not, of course.

Finally, I asked Mom about her inconsistent story of who from where lost an arm to a passing vehicle.

She confessed that sometimes parents had to shock their children to help them understand the real dangers of life.

Years later, one of my young sons stuck his arm out the car window and I instantly told him that a kid had lost his arm that way.

I know Mom was smiling.

KEITH KAPPES, publisher of The Morehead News, Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times, can be reached at kkappes@cnhi.com