by Officer Jeffrey Grasso
D.A.R.E.® The essence of this bold acronym lays the foundation for responsibly living a healthy life. These four letters - D.A.R.E. - explain a simple and powerful message: Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
Since its creation as a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, California in 1983, D.A.R.E. has been established in over 75 percent of our nation’s schools and is utilized in over 43 countries. The primary mission of D.A.R.E. is to provide children with the information and skills they need to live their lives free of drug and violence.
D.A.R.E. lessons provide children with the tools to avoid the negative consequences of drug abuse. Placing a uniformed officer in the classroom as a D.A.R.E. instructor establishes a positive relationship among students, teachers, parents, community leaders and law enforcement.
The D.A.R.E. instructor, a veteran officer with specialized training and a knack for communicating with young people, identifies and reinforces students’ strengths in their quest to become successful. Formal lessons and life experiences help the instructor stress the importance of healthy choices.
D.A.R.E. assists children in making positive choices with the Decision Making Model of the acronym D.A.R.E. The “D” stands for define the problem, challenge or opportunity. Kids often need to think about what is confronting them. Defining the problem, challenge or opportunity lays the groundwork and gives the child direction in addressing the situation.
The letter “A” is for assess. What choices are available when a child is dealing with a situation and its circumstances? It’s relatively simple to say “yes” or “no” when confronted with an opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life.
Once the choices are assessed, the child then makes a decision and that’s the next letter of the acronym. “R” is for respond - make a choice. Children must understand the importance of making the right choice. The right choice is examined in the last letter of the acronym and helps emphasize the right choice.
The last letter, “E”, is for evaluate. Evaluate the choice. Is it healthy, responsible, respectful, and realistic?
Former Chief of Police William Turk was the first D.A.R.E. instructor in Boulder City. After Chief Turk’s tenure as a D.A.R.E. instructor, former police officer Dale Wood was the sole instructor for many years.
As the D.A.R.E. program grew in popularity with the schools and the community, other officers became D.A.R.E. instructors. Former D.A.R.E. instructors include Sergeant Vince Albowicz, Officer Mike Barth, Officer Tom Perkins, and now me, Officer Jeffrey Grasso.
D.A.R.E. instructors receive two weeks of intense training dealing with lesson plan development, teaching methods, learning styles, and current statistical data on drug trends. The Boulder City Police Department now incorporates the D.A.R.E. program as a function of the School Resource Officer position. The D.A.R.E. program is taught in four Boulder City schools: Andrew J. Mitchell, M.P. King, Garrett Junior High and Grace Community School.
At A.J. Mitchell, kindergarteners are taught a scaled down version of the D.A.R.E. program called “Stranger Danger”. This five-week program teaches our youngest children the importance of being aware of their surroundings. It teaches our youngsters to stay away from harmful items and to make wise and healthy choices. These little guys and girls are absolutely ecstatic when I walk into the room.
At M.P. King, D.A.R.E. is taught in fifth grade and this is the core of the D.A.R.E. program. This is when our fifth graders learn about the D.A.R.E. decision making model. During the nine-week program, the children learn about making healthy choices. They also learn about the negative effects of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs such as marijuana, inhalants, and methamphetamine.
At Garrett Jr. High, the nine-week program reinforces the basic principles taught in fifth grade. During these sessions, the students interact and role play real life situations. The students also practice making healthy decisions by using responsible, respectful, and realistic approaches.
D.A.R.E. is a triangle between the schools, police and the community. This triangle cannot be better exemplified than by the culmination of our fifth grade D.A.R.E. Graduation. This grand event is like none other in Clark County. This festival of fun is very rewarding to our fifth graders and supports them by emphasizing healthy decision making. I know the schools and police are doing everything possible to have a drug free community. The community must continue to be attentive to our children and vigilant of negative activities. I appreciate all of your efforts and support in being proactive in our fight against drugs.