The DARE program was initiated because of the alarming increase in drug use. Drugs are not confined only to the murky world of criminals. Drug abuse is a serious problem plaguing more and more of our young people. It impairs emotional growth and learning. Statistics show that 1 out of every 16 high school students smoke marijuana on a daily basis. Many people in their early 20s talk of being burned out by excessive drug use in their teens. It has come to the point where pre-teens need to be inoculated, in a sense, against the lure of the drug culture.
DARE is a new approach to educating young people. Based on recent research, the traditional scare tactics that preach the harms of drugs are de-emphasized. Kids don't want to be told what not to do. Teens, instead, want to act grown-up. Many of them think smoking, drinking and using exotic drugs are their passport to adulthood. So, DARE tries to teach students what being grown-up really means - not giving in to peer pressure, making your own decisions and learning to cope with life's problems in positive ways.
A Heavy Dose of Instruction
A unique feature of Project DARE is the use of police as instructors. DARE officers are assigned full time to a classroom beat. Specially selected and trained officers teach weekly lessons and work closely with students during recess and after school to develop a rapport with children that is vital to the success of the program. Officers assigned to DARE have first hand experience with drug abuse and its victims and are an important key to the program's effectiveness. DARE officers also work closely with teachers, sharing with them techniques of drug resistance education and classroom teachers provide important support to DARE lessons.
The lessons focus on four major areas:
PROVIDING accurate information on alcohol and drugs.
TEACHING students decision-making skills.
SHOWING them how to resist peer pressure.
GIVING them ideas for alternatives to drug use.
DARE instructors employ a variety of activity-oriented techniques to involve students in group discussions, a healthy exchange of ideas and feelings, and role-playing exercises. In addition, workshops are held for parents and teachers. They are made aware of the signs of substance abuse, how to intervene, and where to seek assistance.