D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) teaches our children—from kindergarten through high school—that popularity can be found in positive behavior, that belonging need not require them to abandon their values, that self-confidence and self-worth come from asserting themselves and resisting destructive temptations. D.A.R.E. teaches them not just that they should refuse drugs and alcohol, and not participate in violent activities, but how to do so. D.A.R.E. goes beyond traditional drug abuse and violence prevention programs. It gives children the skills needed to recognize and resist the subtle and overt pressures that cause them to experiment with drugs or become involved in gangs or violent activities.
D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. The D.A.R.E. curriculum is designed to be taught by police officers whose training and experience gave them the background needed to answer the sophisticated questions often posed by young students about drugs and crime. By getting the message from a street-wise police officer—one who’s been out there, one who knows how drugs and alcohol can destroy lives—kids take that message seriously. Prior to entering the D.A.R.E. program, officers undergo 80 hours of special training in areas such as child development, classroom management, teaching techniques, and communication skills. 40 hours of additional training are provided to D.A.R.E. instructors to prepare them to teach the high school curriculum.
D.A.R.E. is universally viewed as an internationally recognized model of community policing. The United States Department of Justice has identified how D.A.R.E. benefits local communities:
- D.A.R.E. “humanizes” the police: that is, young people can begin to relate to officers as people
- D.A.R.E. permits students to see officers in a helping role, not just an enforcement role
- D.A.R.E. opens lines of communication between law enforcement and youth
- D.A.R.E. Officers can serve as conduits to provide information beyond drug-related topics
- D.A.R.E. opens dialogue between the school, police, and parents to deal with other issues