January 25, 2010 12:52 PM

The D.A.R.E Program was originally started in California in 1983 to help keep youth off drugs and shortly thereafter began spreading throughout the country and finally the world.  The Town of Schererville and the Schererville Police Department adopted the program in the early 90's and officers have been working in local schools to teach the program to 5th graders ever since.

The emphasis in the D.A.R.E. Program is to educate students on the dangers and consequences of getting involved with drugs and gangs and the potentially negative effects it may have on their health and future.  D.A.R.E strives to educate students on how to resist the peer pressure they'll encounter which may influence them into experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  D.A.R.E offers a variety of problem solving techniques to students during class discussions and role-playing that are designed to encourage them to respond in a positive, self-initiated manner when faced with these challenges.  Discussions focus on feelings related to self-esteem, interpersonal communication skills, and decision making, as well as getting involved in positive alternatives (i.e. sports, clubs, etc.) to help them avoid drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behavior.

The D.A.R.E. Program not only focuses on education students on the effects and dangers of illegal drugs but on the dangers of misusing legally obtained, over the counter and prescribed medication as well. D.A.R.E. also emphasizes the need for youth to recognize that alcohol and tobacco are drugs, which if used at their age, may have much more devastating consequences to their health and development.

The program is instructed by a uniformed police Officer who meets students once a week in their classrooms throughout the semester. The interaction between the officer and students is designed to utilize the knowledge and experience an officer can bring to the program as well as to help students learn to accept and trust authority figures in their lives which they can turn to or seek out when needed for guidance, advice and/or help.

No matter how busy parents get, they should always make time to be involved in their children's life and talk with them on a regular basis. Not only to find out what is going on at school and in D.A.R.E, but to monitor their behavior and recognize early warning signs. There are many warning signs including irritability, mood changes, sudden change in friends, habits, etc.
If you or someone you know would like additional information on drug abuse, drug recognition, early warning signs or other related topics, there is plenty of information on the internet to research. A good source to start with is, 'The Partnership for a Drug-Free America' at www.drugfree.org

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