Shock and fear tactics

External providers that use shock or fear tactics when working with students should not be engaged.

We do not recommend the use of shock or fear tactics with students in our schools. Fear and shock tactics are least effective in those who most need to change their behaviour. Others will reject the messages by denying, ridiculing, neutralising or minimising them as they do not reflect students’ own experiences.

Research has consistently found that:

  • programs which attempt to use shock tactics or activities to frighten young people by focusing on disastrous consequences of risky behaviours are ineffective
  • the assumption that attempting to arouse fear or anxiety through exposure to shocking images, messages or trauma will result in a predetermined positive behaviour change is flawed
  • warnings may not match student’s personal experiences or perceptions
  • students detach and feel that they are not part of an ‘at risk’ group, therefore disengaging from the learning
  • the use of shock and fear can trigger feelings of anxiety and an emotional response in students, and teachers Work in partnership with other school staff to support students who find any PDHPE content or learning experience confronting. This includes ensuring support staff such as the school counsellor are aware of when this content will be delivered.

Plan learning experiences to encourage students to reflect critically on issues:

  • share thoughts and feelings
  • plan for action
  • contribute in a positive manner.

Related content


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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