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June 2018

The Return of Duck and Cover and the Imminence of Death—What It Means for Physicians

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Bronx Psychiatric Center, Bronx, New York
  • 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(6):511-512. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0120

Those younger than 60 years may not be familiar with the school lesson “duck and cover.” In the 1950s, US children were taught to emulate a civil defense turtle named Bert who ducked into his shell at any sign of danger, whether it be a lit dynamite stick or the flash of an atomic bomb. A 1951 civil defense film alerted children to the danger of an atomic bomb that could arrive with or without warning. Children were told to duck under their desks when the siren sounded. If there was no warning, children were to fling themselves down and cover their heads at the first sign of the atomic bomb, the flash. Children wore identification tags to identify their bodies if a bomb fell.

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