A program that many Maryland parents participated in in middle school and perhaps earlier is getting a reboot in Anne Arundel County. The D.A.R.E. program was a staple of school curriculum from the 1980s (in the “Just Say No” days) through the early 2000s. The original D.A.R.E. program sought to teach kids to resist drugs with a four-step process: “Define. Assess. Respond. Evaluate.”
However, the federal government determined that the program “had no statistically significant long-term effect on preventing youth illicit drug use.”
Researchers who developed the new program, as well as police, county and school officials hope that by presenting kids with potential real-life scenarios that they might encounter with peers and helping them learn how to respond, they’ll have more of an impact than their predecessors did. The old D.A.R.E. program focused on talking to kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The new D.A.R.E. program is called “keepin’ it REAL.” REAL stands for “Refuse. Explain. Avoid. Leave.” A police officer involved in the program in Annapolis says that the new program includes “more decision-making and giving kids resistance strategies.”
The revamped program is designed to appeal to today’s kids who are used to interactive computer games. They discuss what kind of strategies they can apply to hypothetical situations suggested by their classmates.
Not all of the scenarios apply to drugs or alcohol. Some involve bullying and other types of peer pressure. They discuss how their words and actions can work to either escalate or de-escalate a situation.
An impetus for Anne Arundel officials to try out the program in its schools has been the frightening increase in fatal drug overdoses in that county. Deaths have nearly doubled over the last year.
Kids are often exposed to alcohol at an age when they’re far too young to legally drink and when the impact on their developing minds and bodies can be severe and long-lasting. Giving them some tools to resist peer pressure to drink can make a big difference. However, if your child is arrested for underage drinking, it’s essential to take the matter seriously and seek experienced legal guidance.
Source: The Star Democrat, “Police in Maryland’s capital bring DARE back to schools,” Phil Davis, March 03, 2018