The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (D.A.R.E.) charged 11 more officers to change the way middle school students think about drugs, with some help from MSUs School of Criminal Justice.
D.A.R.E. is an officer-led program that teaches students how to resist pressure to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
A graduation ceremony was held June 7 for officers from various Michigan police and sheriffs offices, who participated in a three-day training session at the D.A.R.E. Officer Training School, conducted by the School of Criminal Justice. The officers are now certified to teach the D.A.R.E. Middle School Curriculum.
We look for officers that are good with kids, have good character and excellent communication skills (to be D.A.R.E. officers), said Mentor Officer Randy Tripp, a member of the first class of D.A.R.E. officers, who graduated in 1988.
The training equipped officers with cooperative learning and classroom management skills. The officers also learned how to recognize the learning characteristics of middle school students as compared to elementary students.
The officers role-played as seventh- and eighth-graders while the trainers taught the curriculum to them, said Tripp, who is one of the trainers. The purpose is to get (officers) to think like the children so that they can better relate to them.
The D.A.R.E. class series is taught to more than 25 million students in the United States and 11 foreign countries. More than 100,000 Michigan grade-school students participate in the D.A.R.E. program each year.
I think it is a good program, said Diane Chairs, whose 12-year-old daughter Diesha Reese participated in the program at Pinecrest Elementary, 1811 Pinecrest Drive. It provoked my daughter to ask more questions (about drugs and alcohol).
Candace Curtis, associate state training coordinator for the program, said D.A.R.E. targets students when they are most subjected to a lot of peer pressure, which is typically during the middle school years. She also said the impact of the officers teaching the course is very positive.
What makes the program unique is that law enforcement teaches the classes, Curtis said.
A new middle school curriculum is expected to be introduced by 2004. The goal of new curriculum is to provide a more creative and interactive environment for the students. It is also designed to provide the students with more time to practice the skills learned in the course.
The current program is currently in a stand-up lecture style but the new program will be more group participation and problem-solving, Curtis said.
It can also be taught in 10 consecutive days or during 10 weeks, which makes the program more flexible with the schools schedules.
The officers and administrators involved in D.A.R.E. are confident they are making a difference in the lives of children.
We dont just walk into the classroom and tell the kids to say no, we give them the skills they need to say no, Curtis said.