By Walt Hunter
LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) -- It's called getting "Shmacked" - so wasted on booze and drugs you can no longer function - and the video features students at two Lower Merion high Schools.
It's apparently intended to celebrate the behavior and earn the students $25 t-shirts -- so they won't forget just how "shmacked" they were.
They brag about drinking, waving what appears to be a bag of marijuana, inhaling from a smoke-filled bong, showing bottles in their cars … all the while proclaiming they are "shmacked" - defined by the Urban Dictionary as being so drunk or high you can no longer function.
The images of drinking and drug use are all the more disturbing because most, if not all, of those pictured were students at Lower Merion and Harriton High School when the video was made last spring. One person can be seen staggering down a flight of steps, another breaking out a window.
"They're drinking, they're smoking, they're doing all those things, and they're proud of it," says DA Risa Ferman.
Adding to the District Attorney, what is concerning is that much of the activity occurs in or near vehicles.
"They're wasted, they're whacked out of their minds, and then they are getting into cars," Ferman adds.
The creators of the video, which first appeared on YouTube several weeks ago, have made several "shmacked" videos on college campuses and are also offering t-shirts at $25 a piece that read, "I'm Shmacked." Comments by students and parents in the Lower Merion and Harriton area echoed the District Attorney's criticisms.
"I think it's stupid," one student said.
"I think it's a bad idea, not a good message," added another.
"It's appalling, frightening," said a parent, while another said, "I'm disappointed. I wish parents would do their jobs."
The videographers, including a former Lower Merion student who shot the video of classmates, responded to our inquiries via emails that read, in part, "No actual marijuana was used in the video, just synthetic legal buds that are used as props for our film. The alcohol is also just non-alcoholic beverages in other containers."
"The idea that kids in our community will be walking around in these t-shirts…I hope the schools do something. I hope the parents will stand up and do something about it," Ferman says.
Shortly after we began making inquiries, the video was taken down from public view without explanation, but other Shmacked videos remained.
The Lower Merion School District sent a letter to all families that reads:
Earlier today, we learned about a company that posts YouTube videos of high school and college students engaged in apparent underage drinking and illegal drug use. One of the videos included footage of current and former LMSD high school students. Though the video is no longer online, we had an opportunity to view it and it was shared with local law enforcement.
The activities depicted in the video are reprehensible and cause for great concern. They include binge drinking, marijuana use, substance-induced violence and several dangerous situations involving drugs and alcohol in vehicles. Though all of the activities occur off campus, and the film appears to have been recorded last summer, it is critical that there are swift and appropriate consequences. Where we have the authority and power to act and respond, we will. We are in the process of notifying parents of students that appear in the video and will do so by Thursday afternoon. We ask for continued parental support in conveying the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse.
Additionally, we remind you that there are extensive resources available in our community to address substance abuse issues and addiction. While this information is always shared directly with families whose children are involved in specific incidents, we encourage you to contact your child's school counselor or any member of the LMSD health services team at (610) 645-1829 for confidential guidance and support if you have any concerns or questions.
The video also serves as a reminder that whether or not your child is engaging in harmful and illegal activities, there may still be significant consequences for attending events where such activities occur. In this age of social media and immediate electronic communication, video and/or photographic images often do not distinguish the "innocent" from the "guilty." Students that participate in school sports or other competitive activities may face a team suspension even if they haven't had a sip of beer, but are found to have been "in the room" at a party where alcohol is served. On the line are college acceptances, scholarships and personal reputation. It's simply not worth the risk.
We trust this troubling incident will serve as a valuable learning experience for our students and families. Our staff is available to support you should you need assistance or guidance in discussing this matter with your child. As you know, our primary concern is ensuring the safety and well-being of all students. We appreciate your ongoing support and dedication to this effort.
Principal, Harriton High School
Principal, Lower Merion High School'
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