Officers Forum*

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Drug Abuse Resistance Education is a substance abuse prevention education program designed to equip elementary school children with skills 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 and sixth graders when they have not yet been led by their peers to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and when they 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 addresses values, decisions, self-concept improvement, respect for the law, and most important, peer resistance training.


D.A.R.E.® is taught by specially selected and thoroughly trained police officers. Each officer may be assigned to as many as five schools per semester, one for each day of the week. D.A.R.E.® instructors teach 17 consecutive sessions over the course of a semester to the school's exit grade. The 45-minute lessons are presented weekly. Officers usually teach no more than four class units per day. They spend the balance of their time at the school developing rapport with the students by participating in routine activities such as lunch in the cafeteria, recess and playground, and assemblies. Officers may also hold drug awareness training sessions for parent groups, civic organizations, and faculty members to familiarize them with D.A.R.E.®. Visitation lessons are also available for presentation to kindergarten 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/instructor'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 D.A.R.E.® presentations.


D.A.R.E.® targets elementary school children. High school drug education programs come too late to prevent drug abuse among youths. D.A.R.E.® offers a highly structured, intensive curriculum developed by specialists. A basic precept of the program is that elementary school children 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 alcohol and drug use. D.A.R.E.® uses uniformed police officers to conduct the classes. Uniformed D.A.R.E.® instructors not only serve as 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 that law-enforcement, officers develop a rapport which promotes positive attitudes toward the police and greater 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 children positive alternatives to negative behavior, and mature decision-making capabilities that they can apply to different situations as they grow up.


Evaluations of D.A.R.E.® in Los Angeles have yielded encouraging results. One recent evaluation assessing the impact of D.A.R.E.® on the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of seventh grade students who had received the full semester D.A.R.E.® curriculum during the sixth grade, revealed that, compared to a control group, students who had D.A.R.E.® training reported significantly lower use of alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs since graduating from sixth grade. A second evaluation revealed great enthusiasm for the program among principals and teachers and a wide-spread conviction that it has been successful in making students less accepting of substance abuse and better prepared to deal with peer pressure.