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Alternative Haunted House Hopes To Scare Teens Straight

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YOUNGSVILLE — 'Tis the season of ghouls and horrors. Haunted houses promise to scare you silly. But a haunted house in Franklin County is aiming for something different: to scare teens straight.

This time of year, you'd expect to find ghosts and vampires inside a haunted house, not inside Judgement House. Some say the attempt to scare kids straight is a little too haunting.

The scenes are graphic and shocking: victims in an alcohol-related accident; a visit to hell; the aftermath when a teenage girl commits suicide in a school bathroom.

Creator Michael Liten says Judgement House is meant to look at real life situations and choices.

"A lot of the stuff that we deal with is real life and scary in its own right," says Liten. "Then, even that much more, having to make choices in this lifetime about how you're going to live."

"Why in the world is it that I'm wanting to scare my child," asks Dr. Robert Mankoff, a child psychologist. "There is some idea that by horrifying people you are going to change their behavior."

Dr. Mankoff says it's not a good idea to use a haunted house to expose children, even teenagers, to tough issues like teen suicide.

"It's possible that some children might be shocked by such a thing and then would not think about committing suicide," says Mankoff. "It's equally possible that children will see it and say 'Boy, I think that's kind of a neat idea' or have the thought enter their minds."

Dr. Mankoff suggests if children want to go through this or any haunted house, it's the parent's responsibility to go through it with them and explain what's going on.

Judgement House is not recommended for children under 12 years old. It's located at Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville through October 31. Admission is free. For more information call556-3420. Reporter: Todd HauerPhotographer:David Renner