scare (someone) straight

(redirected from scare them straight)

scare (someone) straight

To shock or frighten someone so severely that their bad behavior or actions become corrected or markedly improved. (That which frightens the person is often some example or manifestation of the possible consequences of those actions or behavior.) We felt like we just couldn't control our teenager's behavior any longer, so we sent him to a prison boot camp to scare him straight. I had a really bad drug addiction in college, but seeing my friend die from an overdose really scared me straight.
See also: scare, straight
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Muldoon, meanwhile, has a sprawling family, and employs tough-love techniques in raising his kids, determined to scare them straight. Unlike some of his pals, he's not completely forthcoming about his shadier activities to his patient wife (Elizabeth Masucci).
"This is the time I try to scare them straight," Dr.
The idea was to scare delinquent teens out of using--to scare them straight. The stories were bloodcurdling, and the results heartening.