Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)
Founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, California, the Drug Abuse Resistance Program (D.A.R.E) is a police officer-led series of lessons that teaches kids how to resist peer pressure and live drug and violence-free.
The series has proven extremely successful in its reach, message, and scope. The lessons are now implemented in kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms nationwide and internationally. In fact, the program has become a national nonprofit organization, called D.A.R.E America, expanding its reach from the classroom to the community by providing support for the development and improvement of the local D.A.R.E curriculum.
D.A.R.E programs are taught by specially trained officers. The officers undergo a rigorous 80 hours of special training in teaching, child development, and communication techniques before entering the program. Officers are also chosen for the program based on an adequate background necessary for answering students’ questions on drugs and violence. The officer-teachers must also be prepared to facilitate further dialog of a larger scope between the school, police, parents, and students.
In addition to D.A.R.E’s mission to equip kids with the tools to avoid negative influences, the program also seeks to establish positive relationships between youth and law enforcement. This crucial link is a key component to changing the mindset that police officers are “bad guys.” The program gives a face to the law enforcers, humanizing them, and builds a relationship with students from a young age to ensure that the students know an officer they can trust.
By tackling the subject of drug use and violence head-on, D.A.R.E’s curriculum faces reality instead of denying or ignoring an increasingly large number of youth drinking, drug, and violence problems. Students are taught about a wide variety of drugs, their effects, and the consequences of drug use. From inhalants to heroin, the program seeks to inform, as well as encourage, safe and healthy decision-making through education.
A fun interactive D.A.R.E website for kids provides interesting facts on drugs, smoking, and violence, reiterating several points made in the classroom curriculum. Here, students can also learn that “smoking accounts for one-third of all heart disease deaths” and that “people who smoke one pack of cigarettes a day decrease their life expectancy by about six years.” The website also provides helpful links for parents and educators and information on funding, donations, and scholarships for students.
In addition to classroom lessons and the website, D.A.R.E also holds national and international conferences for officers and educators in the program’s quest for continued excellence. D.A.R.E International has participating officers from over 40 countries.