The D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program began in Mississippi in 1988. It started out in only a few departments. Now there are over 125 certified officers in this state alone. In 2008, 67,500 students were taught various aspects of the D.A.R.E. Program in K – 12th grades. D.A.R.E. is taught in 150 departments and 350 schools statewide.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, the pioneer prevention effort founded in Los Angeles in 1983, is going high-tech, interactive, and decision-model-based. Gleaming with the latest in prevention science and teaching techniques, D.A.R.E. is reinventing itself as part of a major national research study that promises to help teachers and administrators cope with ever-evolving federal prevention program requirements and the thorny issues of school violence, budget cuts, and terrorism.
Gone is the old-style approach to prevention in which an officer stands behind a podium and lectures students in straight rows. New D.A.R.E. officers are trained as “coaches” to support kids who are using research-based refusal strategies in high-stakes peer-pressure environments. New D.A.R.E. students are getting to see for themselves — via stunning multimedia — tangible proof of how substances diminish mental activity, emotions, coordination and movement.
The “New” D.A.R.E. is setting the gold standard for the future,” says Charlie Parsons, President and Chief Executive Director of D.A.R.E. America, “Prevention inside the 21 st century school house will need to be effective, diverse, accountable, and mean more things to more people, particularly with the safety issues that have emerged since Columbine and terrorist alerts. That’s one reason why every New D.A.R.E. officer is also being trained as a certified School Resource Officer (SRO).”
With research showing that adolescents, in particular, need to be involved in the learning process, experts shifted the focus in the new D.A.R.E. curriculum to include officer-facilitated work, discussion groups, and role-playing sessions. New D.A.R.E. is about giving kids the skills and information they need to make good life choices.