First: I have worked with kids, in both church and non church settings. And I will tell you that; particularily with kids these days, desensitized to violence and/or crisis situations such as storms, fires, etc; a good dose of semi realistic fear is often required to shake them out of their MTV, video game, entertianment induced stuper's so they actually pay attention and learn something. Actions like this, or the school drills above, have a certain value I think. People in crisis situations, who haven't been faced with such situations, can literally come apart with fear. Doing so in a safe or controlled exercise can give you a dose of the fear, so you can think through crisis situations should they actually occur.
1). The parents should always be notified and waivers signed. No waiver, no participation in that event.
2). Depending on the event, local law enforcement should be informed.
3). Small children should not be included. 13 or 14 is probably about as young as you would want.
4). Depending on the event, the kids should generally (but not necessarily always) be informed that, "something may happen".
Obviously none of the above seemed to happen with this church, or some of the schools listed above.
By 14 I was a Civil Air Patrol Cadet, and by 16 on a volunteer emergency sevices team, so I experienced various training programs that were designed to be realistic. So this stuff doesn't really bother me.
I think people are just getting up in arms because it was a church (so they must be crazies!). How many of you let your kids go to haunted houses (covered with "religious" albiet occultic symbols and monsters), where the kids get scared, grabbed, shoved, slimed, etc..
This stuff isn't that big a deal, done properly.
And yes...I have kids....3. I am careful at what I expose them too, and probably they are "sheltered" considered what their friends do. But if I knew about something like this, and the parameters, then I would consider (depending on their age at the time) letting them do something like this. My wife might not though
edit on 3-4-2012 by SrWingCommander because: addition info.