Video: School defends pepper spraying students during class project
CLEVELAND (AP) -- A group of Ohio high school students has voluntarily gotten pepper-sprayed in the face.
More than a dozen Barberton High School students agreed to be sprayed last week with their parents' permission as part of a class exercise for aspiring police officers. Students also have been shocked with a stun gun for the criminal science class.
One copy of a video of the students being sprayed has been viewed online more than 15 million times.
"Students were required to have parental permission and consent in order to participate in the voluntary exercise," said Patricia Cleary, Barberton City School superintendent.
Still, the controversial video is has created a firestorm of debate online.
In the video, one girl screams "It feels like a volcano in my eyes!" Others students cover their eyes and doubled over in pain. Many online viewers find the two-and-a-half minute video difficult to watch, and some have called for the teacher to be fired.
Cleary said the class exercise was conducted by an instructor who is a former police chief who clearly spelled out the activity in the permission slip. The instructor explained that he would "introduce the use and effects of law enforcement OC Pepper Spray to the students" and that it would "cause irritation and a burning sensation to the eyes and nasal area for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour."
While some online commenters have been critical of the parents for allowing their children to be pepper-sprayed, students and parents call it a useful learning experience.
Barberton is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Cleveland.