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The Danger of the Prank

The serene community of Pepperige, NH was disturbed by the media frenzy surrounding allegations of a disgruntled school teacher, Annie Archrey.  Police reports indicate an unusual complaint was filed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) against the parents a child. The teacher reported that the child, a fourth grade student was instructing her classmates on the use of an over the counter laxative. The teacher also informed the social worker of her belief that the family had been indoctrinated into a strange cult that might cause further injury to the child.

Police and swat teams obtained search warrants for the parents residence and examined the hard drives of the various computers used by different family members. When questioned by the police, the parents informed them that they had ‘pranked’ their child. The prank did involve informing the child that the lyrics of an older pop song (Don’t Fear the Reaper) did not suggest ‘death’ but, rather ‘poop’, and the associated problems surrounding irritable bowel syndrome.  When they disclosed this deception, the child seemed more amused than annoyed; They did admit to being members of several groups surrounding the activity of skydiving and were well known at the establishment in Pepperige.

Search warrants were obtained and executed at the ‘drop zone’ – the term used by the participants – for the business records pertaining to the local business. These documents revealed that the establishment had been in the area for several decades. There were reports of several serious injuries and death over that period. The records reflected that the owners and participants were generally cooperative but very secretive about the residents living in a small congregation of motor homes located on the compound. The area was referred to as the ‘ghetto’ by the management and all involved participants.  Over the years there had been several  complaints by neighbors that collectively described what could be called a ‘spontaneous eruption of frivolity’ that appeared to occur with no rhyme or reason. The manager was less than cooperative and when asked of the nocturnal habits of these residents was less than candid. Her response was “well, they drink beer and . . . um, drink more beer”.

It was discovered that the initial complaint was filed by a disgruntled teacher who lived across the river. The reports indicate that the gentle bovine creatures that dwelled in her pasture were frequently disturbed by the noise of airplanes, parachutes, and yelling of the participants during business hours. There were several incidents of individuals landing in a fenced area in defiance of the no trespassing signs that were clearly posted on the property. Most of these cases resulted in convictions and the imposition of fines on the involved miscreants.

Two days following the initial complaint, several students came forward and reported that they were aware of the plot and assisted in its execution. Their initial glee turned to horror as the events unfolded before them. When the ruse was discovered, they all admitted the role each had performed.

State police and government officials have been annoyed, irritated and confused as to the best method to address the problems associated with these types of mischief. The wide availability of the numerous Humor Policies adopted by state agencies and private enterprises suggest that the problem is as widespread as it as the solutions are diverse. The lessons of the family described above are a sad reminder of the consequences of meaningless folly. Parents are urged to address this problem in the home so that these events can be avoided in the future.

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