Decades of D.A.R.E.

HOULKA, Miss. (WCBI) – The D.A.R.E. program has been around for over thirty years.

The Drug, Abuse, Resistance, Education course is taught in all 50 states and 49 other countries.

D.A.R.E. is designed for 5th graders.

The goal behind the 12 week course is to educate students on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and abuse.

Law enforcement say D.A.R.E. targets that age group because studies show that’s where the program is the most effective.

The D.A.R.E. program kicked off in 1983, in Los Angeles, California, and made its way over to Mississippi in 1988.

The reason behind creating the course, is the same reason that brought it to the Magnolia State.

“We were starting to see younger people getting involved with activities that wasn’t good for them and started seeing drug use with younger adolescents, so I went to the sheriff and asked him if there was a program that he knew of, that we could get in the school to help the kids get the information, because if we give them the information, they’ll make a wise decision,” says Houlka School D.A.R.E. Officer, Chief Deputy Keith Roberson.

D.A.R.E. is taught all over the country and is in over 300 schools in Mississippi.

It’s been around for nearly four decades and with time, comes changes.

“When we first started it, it was strictly based on mainly drugs, alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, but now, we’ve incorporated bullying, which is a big part of it now,” says Chickasaw County Sheriff James Meyers.

Roberson says he believes the program is still effective, even after all of these years.

“Studies have shown talking to our kids, with our parents, and our law enforcement, and our teachers about drug awareness, 40% up to 50% will never try it.”

Meyers agrees and says he knows students are listening.

“It’s amazing now, when you have students that come forward, now that are in the 10th, 11th, 12th grade, and they say, ‘Mr. Meyers, do you remember when you taught us?’ A lot of times, they’ll stick it out, and they’ll say, ‘I just want to let you know we made that right decision.’ ”

The sheriff also says it takes a special person to be a D.A.R.E Officer because you have to be very dedicated to the program and children.

He also says becoming a D.A.R.E Officer doubles officers work load.

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