BUCKHANNON — Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), an educational program, was founded in 1983 and has proven so successful that it has been implemented in thousands of schools throughout the United States and over 50 other countries.
D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through grade 12 how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. The program is called Keepin’ it REAL. The core component of this program is REAL, which stands for Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave.
With each passing year, D.A.R.E.’s success was seen in classrooms and homes leading to rapid growth and expansion. The D.A.R.E. program is the most comprehensive drug prevention curricula in the world taught in thousands of schools throughout America in all 50 states and its territories, reaching more than 1.5 million students annually.
Lt. Mark Davis of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department has presented the idea for reinstating the program here in Upshur County. Davis has put in hours of research for the program and after conferring with Sheriff David Coffman, was granted the ability to propose the idea to the County Commission at their meeting on June 27.
Davis formerly led the D.A.R.E. program in Upshur County schools from 1992- 2000. During that time, it was only taught to fifth grade students. In his address to the commission, Davis stated, “I am a firm believer in what D.A.R.E. does, what it represents, and what it teaches.”
The new D.A.R.E program has been revamped. It is presently in over 10,000 communities and there are over 15,000 D.A.R.E. officers in the United States teaching the curriculum to our youth. It is a long-term program that requires an instructor. Upshur County will utilize the Prevention Resource Officers that are currently placed at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School and Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
Both officers will attend an 80-hour training course, where they will learn the entire curriculum K-12, not just the program specific to the age groups they currently serve at the middle and high schools. D.A.R.E. will be a 10-week program when it is implemented in the local school system.
Davis’s goal is to have the program implemented for sixth grade students by January 1, 2020. In the fall of 2020, he hopes to execute the program in the high school setting. Davis and Coffman are still working out the details of having a trainer in the elementary schools. Davis believes this program will be beneficial to serve the next generation in helping to reduce the drug epidemic in this area. He stated, “No program saves every kid.” However, he is confident the program will have a positive impact and with the collective approach from various organizations, the benefit will be maximized.
The Upshur County Board of Education will have to be on board with this project and partner with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department. Davis and Coffman plan to petition the BOE in late July.