CLEVELAND (AP) — A group of Ohio high school students voluntarily got pepper-sprayed in the face — and called the painful experience a useful lesson.

More than a dozen Barberton High School students agreed to be sprayed last week with their parents’ permission as part of a class exercise.

A video posted online shows a row of teens lined up against a building. All is quiet as someone methodically sprays each student in the face, and then moves on. One by one, the students begin to scream.

“It felt like sticking your face into a bonfire,” said Joshua Horvath, 17, a student at the school about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Cleveland.

Students also have been shocked with a stun gun for the criminal science class. The competitive program draws applications from students who want to join the military or become a police officer, and is taught by a former police chief.

“It’s an excellent program,” said Melody Steinhour, 42, who recording video of the exercise and is a parent of one of the students. “The philosophy is, if you’re going to carry pepper spray, or you’re going to carry a Taser, and use it as a weapon, you need to know what it feels like before you inflict that pain on someone else.”

One copy of the video of the students being sprayed has been viewed online more than 15 million times. While some commenters have been critical of the parents for allowing their children to be pepper-sprayed, students and parents call it a useful learning experience.

“It teaches us what we’re going to be doing in the field,” said Horvath, who wants to be a police officer. “It keeps kids out of trouble because once you learn at a younger age, you’re like ‘oh, yeah, I don’t wanna do that again.'”

The pepper spray training is intended to help students earn industry credentials in public safety from the Ohio Department of Education, the school said in a statement. It’s been part of the criminal science program for years, parents and students say, but only recently gained attention because of Steinhour’s video.

PHOTO: Melody Steinhour via AP

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3 thoughts on “High School Students Get Pepper Sprayed…On Purpose

  1. specialt757 on said:

    I don’t see the problem. The military does it probably for the same reason as this curriculum. One it helps build resistance in a real life situation and two teaches (supposedly), what to do if you are ever pepper spray and show what the affects are.

  2. The Truth on said:

    Being apart of law enforcement we went thur this same training. Even though we have a sign consent and a waiver. You still have tbe right to be protected. The school should of had alot of Water to wash them down plus some medical person on stand by. This is what they did for us not because we were police cadets but for safety and percussion because it’s a Chemical agent and you never know who may have a bad react or have and allegic reaction. They needed a safety net in place and I didnt like that part.

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