The essence of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), an anti-drug program started in Ohio in 1987, is learning to say "No" and not feeling compelled to go along with the crowd. D.A.R.E. was originally developed in Los Angeles. The program is co-sponsored by the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Ohio Department of Education, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies and school districts across the state.
Uniformed law enforcement officers teach the curriculum in schools, aiming to equip young people with the skills to resist peer pressure to experiment with harmful drugs. The concept is straightforward and simple - D.A.R.E. to say "No!" Approximately 650 Ohio law enforcement officers who have been trained to teach the D.A.R.E. program work in nearly every county of Ohio. Since 1987, more than 1.5 million Ohio school children have gone through the D.A.R.E. program. The program's primary focus is fifth and sixth-graders because studies indicate that children in these grades are most responsive to prevention education. the curriculum is reinforced throughout junior high and high school.
Many teens think smoking, drinking, and using exotic drugs are passports to adulthood. Rather than emphasizing traditional scare tactics that highlight the harmful effects of drugs, D.A.R.E. tries to teach students what being a grown-up really means: not giving in to peer pressure, making your own decisions, and learning to cope with life's challenges in positive ways.
A Heavy Dose of Instruction
One of the unique features of D.A.R.E. is the use of police officers and sheriff's deputies as instructors. TheD.A.R.E. officer's main audience is fifth and sixth-grade students. He or she visits each class once a week and stays on campus all day, interacting with students during lunch or recess. Officers selected for this "classroom beat" have been carefully screened and are selected for their abilities in human relations and communications. Specialists in education and psychology train them to present the D.A.R.E. lesson program in an engaging and effective manner.
The D.A.R.E. curriculum focuses on four major areas:
- Providing accurate information about alcohol and drugs
- Teaching students decision making skills
- Showing them how to resist peer pressure
- Helping them develop alternatives to drug use
D.A.R.E. instructors employ a variety of activity oriented techniques to involve students in group discussions, roleplaying exercises, and a healthy exchange of ideas and feelings. Parents, teachers, and school administrators are also trained by D.A.R.E. officers, who teach them how to recognize the signs of drug abuse in young people, how to intervene, and where to seek assistance.
An Effective Program
Recent studies have found that children who have been through the D.A.R.E. program are less likely to get involved in alcohol and drug abuse than those who have not experienced the D.A.R.E. curriculum. In Ohio, nine out of 10 teachers and principals say D.A.R.E. makes a positive difference in student's attitudes toward drugs.
In Their Own Words
One Ohio D.A.R.E. graduate recently wrote:
"D.A.R.E. helped me to understand the dangers of drugs and violence. If more people knew what the effects of drugs and violence actually were, they might get serious and promise to never use drugs. I feel it is vital that we keep children 'drug free.' We are the next generation…"
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is under the supervision of the Service Bureau Commander. Patrol Officer (Ptl.) Robin Short and Ptl. Matt Robinson are the division D.A.R.E. instructors. The Bowling Green Police Division continues its fight in the "War Against Drugs" by being actively involved in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
D.A.R.E. History at BGPD
It is our belief that by teaching skills to the students in our schools, we are effectively "arming" them with the weapons they need to "Just Say No" to drugs. The Division became involved in the D.A.R.E. program when Ptl. Grant Tansel graduated from the first D.A.R.E. Officer training program, taught at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, OH in March of 1988. The D.A.R.E. program was expanded to the Bowling Green Junior High School in 1990 and into Bowling Green Senior High School in 1991. The Bowling Green Police Division became one of the first programs outside of Los Angeles to implement the new Senior High program.
1991 also saw the creation of Bowling Green's D.A.R.E. Graduate Club in the Junior High School. This club for graduates promotes a positive, drug free lifestyle through drug free sponsored activities. The Bowling Green Police Division continues to be a leader in the D.A.R.E. program, not only in Ohio but in the entire nation. The future holds many challenges and opportunities to continue the fight against drug abuse.