D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a substance abuse prevention education program designed to equip school children with skills necessary for resisting peer pressure to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
This unique program, which was developed as a cooperative effort by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District, uses well-trained uniformed officers to teach a formal curriculum to students in a classroom setting on a regular basis.
D.A.R.E. focuses special attention on fifth graders when they have not yet been led by their peers to experiment with drugs and alcohol and are most receptive to drug prevention education.
Because the goal of prevention requires an attitudinal change in children, the developers of D.A.R.E. replaced the traditional approach of emphasizing substance abuse identification and the dangers of abuse with a curriculum that focuses more on values, decisions, self-concept, improvement, respect for the law, and most importantly, peer resistance training.
How is D.A.R.E. Presented?
D.A.R.E. is taught by specially selected and thoroughly trained police officers. D.A.R.E. instructors teach ten lessons in a 15 week period over the course of a school semester. The one-hour lessons are presented on a weekly basis. Officers typically teach no more than four class periods per day and spend the balance of their time at the schools developing rapport with students by participating in daily, routine activities such as lunch in the cafeteria, recess and playground, and general assemblies. Officers may also hold drug-awareness training session for parent groups, civic organizations and faculty members to familiarize them with the D.A.R.E. curriculum and program. Visitation lessons are also available for presentation from pre-school through fourth grade levels. A follow-up curriculum for junior high level has been developed as well.
D.A.R.E. also provides supplemental lessons that the regular classroom teacher can use to reinforce the officer’s instruction. The teacher usually remains in the classroom during the D.A.R.E. lesson and may offer feedback on the officer’s activities or may actually, if the teacher wishes, participate in the D.A.R.E. presentations.
D.A.R.E. qualifies as one component of the comprehensive K-12 prevention education program that the Governor’s Alliance Against Drugs member communities have agreed to develop. The project D.A.R.E. curriculum meets all seven curriculum concepts established by the Alliance:
- Drug and alcohol identification and physical and behavioral effects
- Social context of drug and alcohol abuse
- Misuse of dependence on drugs and alcohol
- Interpersonal skills
- Coping skills
- Responsible decision making
EDC, the Governor’s Alliance, and the regional prevention centers will work with the communities in which D.A.R.E. is to be implemented to adapt the D.A.R.E. curriculum to the unique needs of Massachusetts.
What is special about D.A.R.E.?
- D.A.R.E. targets fifth grade students as high school drug education programs come too late to prevent drug abuse among youth.
- D.A.R.E. offers a highly structured intensive curriculum developed by specialists. A basic precept of the program is that fifth grade students lack sufficient social skills to resist peer pressure and to say “no” to drugs.
- D.A.R.E. instructors do not use scare tactics of traditional drug education that focus on the dangers of abuse. Instead, they work with children to raise their self esteem, to learn to make decisions on their own, and to identify positive alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse.
- D.A.R.E. uses uniformed police officers to conduct the classes. Uniformed D.A.R.E. instructors not only serve a role models for children at an impressionable age but also achieve instant credibility on the subject of drug abuse. Moreover, by relating to students in a role other than law enforcement, officers develop a rapport which promotes positive attitudes toward the police and greater overall respect for the law.
- D.A.R.E. represents a long-term solution to a problem that has developed over many years. Many people believe that a change in attitudes will reduce the demand for drugs over time.
- D.A.R.E. instructors give the children positive alternatives to negative behavior and mature decision making capabilities that they can apply to different situations as they grow up.