Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a substance use prevention education program designed to equip elementary school children with skills for resisting peer pressure to experiment with tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. This program is a cooperative effort by the Goffstown Police Department and the Goffstown School District, which uses uniformed law enforcement officers to teach a formal curriculum to students in a classroom setting.
Project DARE gives special attention to sixth graders to prepare students for entry into junior high and high school, where they are most likely to encounter pressures to use drugs.
DARE lessons focus on four major areas:
- Providing accurate information about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
- Teaching students decision-making skills
- Showing students how to resist peer pressure
- Giving students ideas for alternatives to drug use
This innovative program has several noteworthy features:
DARE targets elementary school children.
Junior high and high school drug education programs have come too late to prevent drug use among youth in the past. Therefore, substantial numbers of young people have reported initiating the use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana by junior high school.
DARE offers a highly structured, intensive curriculum developed by health education specialists.
A basic precept of the DARE program is that elementary school children lack sufficient social skills to resist peer pressure and say no to drugs. DARE instructors do not use the scare tactics of traditional approaches that focus on the dangers of drug use. Instead, the instructors work with children to raise their self-esteem, teach them how to make decisions on their own and help them identify positive alternatives to tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. The curriculum addresses learning objectives in keeping with those of state departments of education and conforms with health education standards.
DARE uses uniformed law enforcement officers to conduct the class.
Uniformed officers as DARE instructors not only serve as role models for children at an impressionable age but also have high credibility on the subject of drug use. Moreover, by relating to students in a role other than that of law enforcement, officers develop a rapport that promotes positive attitudes toward the police and greater respect for the law.
DARE represents a long-term solution to a problem that has developed over many years.
Many people believe that, over time, a change in public attitudes will reduce the demand for drugs. DARE seeks to promote that change. Equally important, DARE instructors help children develop mature decision-making capabilities that they can apply to a variety of situations as they grow up.