I’m not really crazy about sending my kid out to watch an autopsy to begin with. Yes, even in the name of science. But when the body a class of teens is watching the medical examiner cut up belongs to a fourteen-year-old from their school district, you’ve lost me completely.
It’s exactly what happened at a Michigan ME’s office; even after the teacher was warned that the teenagers in her high school science class would be subjected to the autopsy of a middle school student from the same school district who had committed suicide.
The Detroit News reported the teacher put it out to her students, kids in the eleventh and twelfth grades at Waterford Kettering High School. None of the kids actually knew the girl, although one student knew the deceased’s brother. The ME’s office in Oakland County has decided to stop all future high school tours because of the case, but I’d say all the adults involved here need to be reviewing their actions. Kids watching dead kids be examined? It’s the stuff that can cause some pretty severe nightmares, not to mention a host of issues for the child’s family.
That older teens might be sent to see an autopsy as part of their exploration of potential careers is one thing. Personally I think that kind of thing should be limited to kids who have expressed an interest in the medical field, not required viewing for a regular upper-level science class. If kids feel they’re going to be upset by watching a body carved up, by all means, let them stay back in the school building and do busy work.
And the kids who choose to make the trip? They should not be watching the process being done on another child, especially one who they might know in one way, shape or form. Adults have a hard enough time stomaching the thoughts of harm having come to a child. Professionals who deal with this type of thing on a daily basis, despite all their attempts to become immune to the horrors specific to the loss of a child, still struggle. Ask any district attorney who has had to prosecute the case of a child’s death if he doesn’t go home at night and hug his kids just that much tighter. To expect teenagers, still kids themselves, to process that sort of thing – or to think that asking them beforehand if they’re OK with it and expecting their teenaged-bravado not to get in the way – is a failure to protect a piece of their innocence.
Yes, they can see this sort of thing on CSI. But a fake body on a screen has nothing on a real body laid out in front of them, the body of a child they know has walked through the same halls where they once studied math and science.
Let’s let kids be kids – as long as we can.
Image: The Detroit News