D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is designed to teach children in the Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels the dangers of drugs and alcohol, how to control anger and how to deal with peer pressure. The program is taught in more than 75% of the Nations school districts. The D.A.R.E. program is based on the ideas that prevention is the only long-term solution to substance abuse. Police officers go through a stressful, but rewarding, training to teach the D.A.R.E. program. With the sensitization and glamorization of drugs and alcohol, condoning of violence, and peer pressure in society today, children need the D.A.R.E. program to help guide them into making good choices.
D.A.R.E. raises children’s awareness about drugs. Some children are completely unaware of the dangers of drugs. Officers trained in the D.A.R.E. program work with children to teach them about the ill effects of drugs, and the consequences of drug use and abuse. Also, many people are unaware that the most common drugs are cigarettes, and sadly they are legal.
Through the D.A.R.E. program children learn that cigarettes are extremely addictive, and there are also serious health problems related to smoking. In the D.A.R.E. handbook that the kids receive, the kids are informed that smoking not only causes breathing problems and lung cancer, but is also responsible for heart disease and many other health issues. Children are also taught that drugs such as marijuana can lead to the use of stronger drugs, such as Methamphetamines. In some of the lessons people who have had their lives harmed by drug use tell their stories. The stories are very sad many kids say they do not want to ever use drugs because of the stories. Other drugs that are harmful are pharmaceutical drugs, yet children are not aware of this fact. Most children do not think of them as harmful, they use then when they are sick so why can’t you use them anytime? In the D.A.R.E. program children are taught that some pharmaceutical drug are as harmful as illegal drugs if not taken as instructed on the label.
As well as teaching children about drugs and cigarettes, the D.A.R.E. program teaches about the effects of alcohol. Children learn first of all, that alcohol is a drug and it is illegal for children to purchase or consume. The ill effects of alcohol are also taught. For example: alcohol slows reflexes, blurs speech, poor judgement, and loss of self-control. It is also taught that alcohol can effect a child more severely than it effects adults, and that beer, wine and liquor contain the same amount of alcohol, so regardless of what kind of alcohol is consumed, the effects are the same. So many movies portray drunks and fun and funny, in the D.A.R.E. program children learn that being drunk is not always fun or funny. Mostly the children are taught not all teenagers drink, in fact most of them do not.
Often times the use of drugs and alcohol result in violent behavior. The D.A.R.E. program helps children find ways to control anger instead of using violence. Sadly some children see a lot of violence at home. The D.A.R.E. officer is someone children can relate to and respect. He teaches them that violence is not the normal way to handle anger. He has lessons that show children how to use other methods to control anger that are not violent. Talking things out sometimes works, if that does not work, walking away from the situation is best. Children are also taught how to stand up to bullies without using violence. The officer lets the children know that he is on their side and helps them to see that they can ask an adult or police officer for help instead of using violence in most situations.
Most important of all children are taught how to deal with peer pressure in the D.A.R.E. program. Peer pressure is the number one reason that kids do things that might cause them harm. The D.A.R.E. lessons consist of different scenarios teaching children to resist peer pressure. The D.A.R.E. officer teaches kids that they can say no to their friends and if the friend is a true friend, he/she will not pressure them to do things that are wrong. In the D.A.R.E. program children are taught to make right choices.
There are people who say that taxpayers dollars should not be spent on the program because there’s no actual way to know if it works. Making sure that kids are aware of the dangers of drugs is a start. Awareness is the key to prevention, if children are unaware of the dangers of drugs or alcohol, then they will blindly do them not knowing the consequences. The DARE program promotes awareness, and that is a valuable key in prevention. In Shelby, NC at the Elizabeth Elementary D.A.R.E. graduation, Jordan LeGrand, a senior at Shelby High School and D.A.R.E. graduate, stated to the students, that when confronted with difficult situations she remembered her D.A.R.E. education and made right choices. If only one child learns from the D.A.R.E. Program, it has been a success.
Other naysayers state that D.A.R.E. increases drug use because it glamorizes drugs. Such a statement is far from true. The D.A.R.E. program teaches the ill effects of drugs, they even have a poster showing the before and after appearance of someone using Meth which shows the physical damages drugs have on the body. The program never glamorizes drugs, alcohol or violence. The handbook is full of information informing children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and violence.
Even though there may not be statistics showing the benefits of the D.A.R.E. program, it is an excellent program for children. It raises awareness, and hopefully will be something that children will remember throughout their teen years, and into adulthood. If only one child makes right choices because of what was learned in the D.A.R.E. program it is a success. There are a lot of bad things in the world, things that harm children; awareness is the key to help keep them on the right track. The D.A.R.E program helps raise awareness and is a good program to help children make the right choices in life.
D.A.R.E. America (2003)