The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, more commonly known as D.A.R.E., has been helping kids live safer, drug-free lives for 32 years. The program began in Los Angeles to address problems with kids being exposed to drugs and violence, but it’s now in 53 countries.
The D.A.R.E. founders took a unique approach by enlisting the help of actual police officers that came into classrooms to talk with kids. D.A.R.E. has also utilized educational experts as well as feedback from students to keep the program successful year after year.
April 16th is National D.A.R.E. Day this year, and we’ll be honoring all of our Houston charter school students that are graduating from the D.A.R.E. program. We’ll also be showing appreciation for the local police officers that have given their time to help our students learn how to handle peer pressure and just say no to drugs and violence.
How Focusing on Decisions is Helping Kids Say No to Drugs
Helping kids say no to using drugs, gang life and violent behavior is much different today than it was when D.A.R.E. first began. Kids make connections with people online and offline, they are consuming media all the time and there are new dangers like prescription drugs.
Over the last few years the D.A.R.E. program has been fine-tuned with the help of prevention scientists. Centers like the Prevention Science Institute (PSI) at the University of Oregon extensively research development in children and what causes some kids to engage in harmful behavior. Prevention scientists promote the use of early intervention in a community setting, which is exactly the model used by D.A.R.E.
As a result, there has been a recent shift away from making D.A.R.E. primarily an anti-drug program to one that focuses on teaching kids the importance of making good, healthy decisions in general. This inherently includes saying no to drugs, alcohol and tobacco products. The new program, which began in 2009, has shown great promise in continuing the mission of D.A.R.E. and reducing drug use among the students that complete the 10-week program.
The D.A.R.E. program has evolved to become more interactive and scenario-based rather than lectures that include facts about the risks of drug use and violent activities. Kids actively participate in decision-making exercises so that they consider how they would react in certain situations and practice their response. They are taught four say no strategies known as REAL: Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave.
Many kids think drug use and gang activity is a choice that they are making for themselves and that only they will potentially suffer any consequences of their actions. By pointing out how their choices affect their friends, communities and families kids come to realize how their decisions have a ripple effect that can harm others.When kids are taught the skills needed for good decision-making they are not only less likely to do drugs, but also more likely to make better choices about their attitude, diet and school work.
Part of the strategy also includes reminding kids that they are the future leaders of our communities. It’s an idea that is perpetuated every day at Pro-Vision Academy. Giving students the resources to make the right choices and take responsibility for their actions is the school of thought that Pro-Vision Academy was founded on years ago.
At our charter school, helping kids make the best decisions possible is something that is practiced every day. Pro-Vision Academy volunteers are a vital part of helping our students gain the self-respect and skills that lead to better decision-making. Strengthen our community now and in the future by joining our team!