Drug Abuse Resistance Education
D.A.R.E.!
Submitted by Cpl. Beth Campbell, St. Albert RCMP
2006-06-28

This school year six D.A.R.E. trained officers from the St. Albert R.C.M.P. Detachment delivered the D.A.R.E. curriculum to 928 grade six students in 16 St. Albert Schools.

The new D.A.R.E. curriculum was introduced this past school year to the elementary schools. The changes made offered a more facilitated presentation versus a lecture format. By asking thought provoking questions the D.A.R.E. officer is able to guide the students towards solutions that would best fit in a healthy, violence free lifestyle. The lessons have been reduced to ten from seventeen with an option for two further supplementary lessons (Role Model and Bullying). The overarching goal of the entire D.A.R.E. Program is to significantly reduce/eliminate the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and the use of violent behavior by young people. Having taught D.A.R.E. since 1997 and being a mentor where I instruct the two week course to police officers, I have personally seen the benefits of the D.A.R.E. Program. Each of my children have been through the D.A.R.E. program and still wear their graduation T-shirts years later! They are proud of their accomplishment and feel confident when faced with challenges that life brings their way. It is fair to say D.A.R.E. is not the silver bullet, but it is a piece of the puzzle that helps communities build a safe and healthy home for their youth. Parents, the schools, the police, and our community all have a role to play in developing our young people and guiding them towards healthy lifestyles and becoming caring, productive members of our community.

Who supports D.A.R.E. in St. Albert?

The St. Albert Toronto Dominion Bank, the Rotary Club of St. Albert, the Kinsmen Club of St. Albert and the Kinettes have continually supported our local program and this past year, the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association held a charity tournament where over $10,000.00 were donated to the local program. Without their financial support, the D.A.R.E. Program would not be possible in St. Albert.

Police resources are made available to deliver D.A.R.E. Members from the local detachment teach D.A.R.E. over and above their regular duties.

The schools free up the instruction time for members to come to their schools and deliver the program. Teachers can reinforce the D.A.R.E. message in the classroom and bring many of the lessons learned in D.A.R.E into other curriculum activities. For example, students at my school created posters to capture their commitment to be drug and violence free, they were awesome! The support the police receive from the schools in St. Albert for drug awareness and education programs is second to none and very much appreciated.

Parents support the program by talking about healthy and wise choices and reinforcing the messages drug awareness and education programs deliver. Take advantage of “teachable moments” when a news story or newspaper article cover a story, such as the waitress who recently passed away from lung cancer due to second hand smoke. Discuss what happened, why it happened and what could you do to prevent that from happening again?

The overall community support for D.A.R.E and other drug awareness and education programs is extraordinary in our community. The community has told us their uppermost concerns lie with our youth and the concerns for their well being in a world that offers many risks to teens as they grow and develop into young adults. Science has told us the brain does not fully develop until a youth is 21 years of age, the last part to develop being the decision making part! Imagine what drugs and alcohol can do to a developing brain!

As you can see, D.A.R.E. and other drug awareness programs are a partnership with the community, various agencies in our community, the schools, the parents and the police. Are we making a difference to youth in St. Albert? Are we giving them the tools to survive life’s challenges? If we all do our part, then yes, we are making a difference.

So what is D.A.R.E. all about?

Over the summer months I would like to share what D.A.R.E. looks like on the inside! We hear the acronym used in the schools, by the police, in the community, in newspaper articles and fund-raising campaigns. Many of you may have attended your child’s graduation from the D.A.R.E. program and have heard the young essay readers share their commitment to themselves, their parents and their community to be drug and alcohol free. It is quite an experience. So, let’s start off with what the objectives of the D.A.R.E. Program are.

Objectives of D.A.R.E.

So, lets take a peek at some of the things that are going on in the lessons!

Lesson One:

Lesson one is on getting to know each other. I share a few things about myself and then challenge the students to write down all the cool things they like to do. Then, in turn when they introduce themselves to me, I ask that they pick out of that list the most favorite thing they like, or the most unique thing about themselves. We discuss the D.A.R.E. Box which is like my mailbox. The students are invited to put their questions into the box that may come up during the week with regards to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and other concerns, and I will answer them the following week. We also talk about the D.A.R.E. Rules, the expectations I have for students in the classroom, which often mirror the classroom rules. An important rule is when sharing a story to use the phrase “Someone I know” instead of naming a person, be it their mom or dad, friend, brother or sister and so forth. This way no one is accidentally embarrassed when a story is being shared.

The students are also introduced to the D.A.R.E. decision making model to help them think through a challenge, situation or problem they are faced with. The decision making model asks students to think through the problem using the model. To help the students with the concept of a the steps to proceed with in the “model”, I ask the students how would it work if they tried building a model airplane and did not follow the steps in order? Or to try and build a Lego kit starting at the end? So, firstly, they need to think about what the problem is, define the problem. Next step is to consider all the possible choices they have when thinking about what they should do. What is the best choice? Thirdly, how are they going to respond, what action are they going to take? Lastly, they need to think back to their choice, how they responded and ask themselves if it was a good choice they had made. What were the consequences of that choice? I’ll often say to the students, “A few days later, can you still say that was a good choice?”

The D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model is applied to various scenarios that the students work through in groups. In the first two scenarios the students are asked to work through the model to work out how they would respond to the situation. The situations are:

The students are challenged to apply the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model to decide what to do. They must Define the challenge, Assess their choices, Respond to the situation and Evaluate their choice!

The D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model is used through out the curriculum and it is pointed out to the students that this model can be applied to all problems, experiences or challenges students may face in life, not just to offers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This is evident in the first two scenarios we introduce to the students.

So, that gives you a look at what your young son or daughter would be learning in lesson one of the elementary D.A.R.E. Curriculum. Stay tuned next week for lesson two tidbits!

Should you have any questions about D.A.R.E. or drug awareness education in St. Albert, do not hesitate to contact me directly at the St. Albert Detachment, 458-7700.

For even more information on D.A.R.E., surf to the D.A.R.E. website at www.dare.com.

Thanks for tuning me in for a bit, stay tuned for next week's submission! (Lesson Two)

Cpl Beth Campbell
NCO Community Policing and Victim Services
St. Albert RCMP