Parents Sign Paperwork Allowing Their Kids To Get Pepper Sprayed At School For A ‘Project’ On Consequences

Would you let your child experience pepper spray for a school assignment?

woman holding mace | Shutterstock

Getting sprayed with pepper spray is not something that most people would voluntarily do. It can be incredibly painful.

However, one school asked parents to sign permission forms for their children to do just that as part of a class project.

Parents gave the okay for their kids to be pepper sprayed at an Ohio school.

A group of 11th graders at Barberton High School in Barberton, Ohio were sprayed in the face with pepper spray for a school assignment. The criminology class project was intended to teach students about the hazards that law enforcement officers experience on a daily basis.


To perform the project, students were lined up against a wall in their gym clothes. Their teacher moved from one student to the next with a can of pepper spray. Each time, he stated, “Stop resisting. Please comply,” before spraying the pepper spray.


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Despite participating voluntarily, the students were seen afterward jumping up and down, screaming, and rubbing their faces. 

When contacted by CNN, the superintendent of Barberton City Schools, Patricia Cleary, defended the incident. “Students were required to have parental permission and consent in order to participate in the voluntary exercise,” she insisted, cleary asserting that all proper procedures were followed.

The teacher who sprayed the pepper spray was a former police officer and the school resource officer was there. The now-viral video was taken by a parent who was present as well.

The permission form stated that “this is a controlled and safe experience for the students and is completely voluntary.”


Others weren't so sure about the appropriateness of spraying students with pepper spray.

An Army veteran, Jeremiah Knight, reposted the video and shared his thoughts. “If I had the option of getting maced again for nothing, no, I would never take that,” he stated. “For $10,000, sure. It’s mace. But it stays with you for the rest of the day.”



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“These kids are literally going through heck because they agreed to this class project to get maced in the face,” he said. While it's important to note that the students were pepper sprayed and not maced, Knight's words are still relevant. Thinking back on when he experienced it himself in the Army, he stated, “I thought I was dying.”


Commenters seemed to agree with him. “I’d rather get tased again,” said one person. Another wrote, “It shouldn’t be allowed.”

Getting sprayed in the face with pepper spray is obviously not the safest or most comfortable experience.

According to Poison Control, pepper spray can cause symptoms like difficulty breathing, itching, and difficulty opening your eyes. They described these issues as “usually mild and temporary.” 

While these effects are not that serious and last for a limited amount of time, there are worse things that can happen. Poison Control adds that corneal abrasions, wheezing, and skin blisters were also possible and anyone with lung conditions, like asthma could suffer more serious effects.

Students and parents were likely warned of these risks before the project took place and still chose to move forward with it.


It’s fascinating to consider why these students and their parents chose to go through with this experiment and to wonder what you would do in their shoes.

Ultimately, it appeared that the students were in a safe environment and surrounded by professionals who could help them if necessary. Still, watching the video of the incident does raise questions about the ethics behind it all, both for the school and for parents.

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news, and human interest topics.