The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program or D.A.R.E. is at the forefront of substance use prevention education programs and is being taught in 75% of our nations school districts. It began in 1983 in Los Angeles as a cooperative effort between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Over the past 27 years, the D.A.R.E. curriculum has evolved and been revamped several tiimes in order to stay current.
The program continues to utilize uniformed Law Enforcement officers as instructors. Each D.A.R.E. officer undergoes an extensive 80-hour program that provides the officer with the skills required to properly present the curriculum. This training, along with the officer on the street experience, provides the officer with the knowledge to answer the difficult questions often posed by young students.
D.A.R.E. offers a highly structured intensive curriculum developed by health education specialists. A basic precept of the D.A.R.E. program is that elementary school children lack sufficient social skills to resist peer pressure and say no to drugs. D.A.R.E. instructors do not use the scare tactics of traditional approaches that focus on the dangers of use. Instead, the instructors work with the children to raise their self-esteem, teach them how to make decisions on their own, and help them identify positive althernatives to substance use.
It is common practice for D.A.R.E. to be taught in the last years of elementary school to help prepare the students for middle school. Since 1988, the Fairview Heights Police Department has been teaching D.A.R.E. to the 5th Grade classes at Grant, Holy Trinity, and William Holliday.
There are 10 lessons in the current curriculum with each lesson building on the information provided in the previous lessons. Some of the lessons covered include: the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana; peer pressure; self-esteem; and making good decisions.
One of the invaluable benefits of the D.A.R.E. program is the relationships that are created between the local law enforcement with students as well as the schools themselves. D.A.R.E. helps to humanize the police and helps young people see that officers are people too.