Our today’s society is highly exposed to using drugs and alcohol more than any other that had ever existed. It is even burdening to know that the children are at a higher risk of getting tempted to use them as they are everywhere. Therefore, it is in everybody’s interest to make sure that the children do not involve themselves in the substance abuse. Having programs that assist and teach children is the only way to help them resist the use of drugs. The school curriculum is not enough because it is so wide such that teaching about substance abuse is not a priority in the curriculum. The results of this introduction of independent programs in schools. Drug Abuse Resistance program (D.A.R.E), is one of them. The program is available countrywide helping children from elementary school up to high school, training them on how to resist drug abuse. Various individuals have however proposed that the program should be scraped off and start up a new program as the D.A.R.E program does not deliver on the promise of helping children to resist drugs. According to them, the program only works for a few children and only for the period they are in school. This paper will detail reasons for continuing with the program and instead of doing away with it, the program should be modified to have a long-lasting influence on the children who go through it.
D.A.R.E is a unique program launched in the year 1983 with a comprehensive K-12 education program that is taught in thousands of schools all around America and 52 other countries in the world. Its curriculum addresses not only drugs and substance abuse but also other factors in the current environment that affect the children. The other factors include internet safety, bullying, violence and any other factors that affect the lives of children as they grow ("D.A.R.E. America"). Police officers administer the program in uniforms where they teach students topics relating to drug use. Under these, the students are taught about the social and physical effects of using drugs and alcohol. The teachings are aimed at instilling decision-making skills in children as young as elementary school so that they can be able to make a better judgment on their own even in the future (Smith, Deborah).
The program since inception has faced countless criticism with lots of research suggesting that the program does not work and that it is just a waste of money and time while achieving counterproductive results. Some educators complained that police officers are not teachers to be sent to classrooms as they do not hold any knowledge on handling children or offering guidance as a teacher or a psychologist would do. However, the officers undergo training that equips them on the way to handle the children. Among the officers are parents too who have the capabilities of handling children as they have their own. Dr. William Colson, a critic of the program, suggested that the program encourages children to feel overly empowered when making choices such that they feel that the power to say yes or no to use of drugs is on their hands. According to him, this was a negative impact as it was supposed to empower children to say no and not either. However, the program not only empowers them but also educates the children on the adverse effects of making the wrong decision therefore when making any decision they know what they are getting themselves into and the consequences they will face. Other critics suggest that it is a program that focuses much on the self-esteem rather than skill building. However, many children fall into the trap of drug and alcohol abuse primarily because they want to fit in with a group of peers due to low self-esteem. If that is eliminated, then the cause of drug abuse and alcohol consumption is eradicated. A positive attribute of the program is that it is common everywhere. The things taught in California are the same ones taught in Texas or any other county within the country, and the officers are trained the same way (Rab, Sara). In addition, the police officers are exposed to various drug users in their career and fight against drugs. Therefore, they are the appropriate people to run the program.
One of the primary reasons why the D.A.R.E program should not be scrapped of is that the D.A.R.E program helps in preventing the use of drugs among children in elementary, middle schools and even in high school. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) children who have participated in the D.A.R.E program were found to be able to resist drug abuse. The substances in this discussion are marijuana, tobacco, and even alcohol. The report categorized the students as 32% of them to have been able to discontinue alcohol consumption altogether, 42% of them being able to reduce alcohol consumption from the start of the D.A.R.E program. Numerous organizations have conducted other researches on the program among them being the Research Triangle Institute. In their findings, the firm found that the participants in the program who proceed and graduate are less likely to initiate substance abuse in a group like smoking compared to those who did not participate. In another research by a peer-review evaluation conducted in 2010, it was found that among those students who took part in the “Take Charge of Your Life” curriculum stipulated by Robert Wood Foundation, those who used marijuana in 7th grade, were less likely to use it in the 11th grade and above. The results were an indication that the program worked for bettering the future of the participants. If there is persistence change of slogans together with curriculum, it is possible to attain the overall goal which is to save as many children as possible from being consumed by drugs and alcohol.
The program is also imperative as it targets a group of children between elementary and high school which is the stage at which they are growing ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). The stage of growing is where the children are trying to understand themselves and understand how the world operates. If they are not guided through programs like the D.A.R.E they may end up trapped in drug use or even getting exploited by drug cartels. The school environment has a potential as a locus where crime or good can develop. The reason being that the environment provides regular access to children from all ages and different backgrounds during their developmental years (Gottfredson, Denise C.). The D.A.R.E program unlike any other that has been proposed to take its position focuses on this group which makes it unique and more suited to solving the issues. Therefore, should not be removed, in fact, the program should be redeveloped to make it suitable to the age and the environment, unlike its current curriculum which is inflexible. The curriculum requires the instructors to follow what is written to the letter without bend even a little to suit the targeted group. The program empowers the young children to be self-confident by equipping them with knowledge which boosts self-esteem and in future produces good citizens who can be productive contributing towards the development of the country at large.
The second reason for keeping the program around a little bit longer is that it promotes social interactions between the police officers, the children, and the parents. A report by a peer-reviewed study indicated that those students who interacted with police officers during the program when they were young, after graduation they are able to see the police officers as people who are there to help. The report also indicated a difference in perception for those who did not interact with the police officers during their years in school ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").
The category that did not have a chance to interact with the officers saw them as a group of people in the society that only bring problems to people as their work is to arrest them. In their eyes, they are the bad guys in the situation and hard to interact with especially if one perceives they are in the wrong. The program has in the past help children view police officers as individuals in the society who help keep peace and if it is eliminated it means that the effects will be discontinued and the community will go back to seeing the officers as the “bad guys” in the society.
Through the various interactions where the police and the community in question interact there is a special relation formed where they collaborate in keeping the community safe. For example, if a police officer interacts with a student then the students trust the cops like what happens when a student trusts a teacher, the student can share problems they have. The problems could be security at home or even domestic violence. In the end, the police officer can help the student from the capacity of a police officer and not just an instructor brought in by the program. Various research reports have proven that the D.A.R.E is the most popular program among parents and children. One survey conducted in 2007 showed that 95% of the children who participated in the survey felt that the program had helped them and that they were confident that they would be able to resist drug abuse and alcohol consumption in the future if a situation where they had to choose presented itself. The same survey showed that 99% of the parents in the survey were aware of the program and in support of it as it gave the desirable results in their children ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). Introducing an entirely unfamiliar program would lead to resistance by some a large number of parents as they know that the present program is working. Changing some issues in the program would, however, be supported since in every project there is always an evaluation that helps the team involved in finding defective areas and correcting them.
The third and final reason for not doing away with the D.A.R.E program is that starting an entirely new program would mean starting from scratch which would also mean testing waters where the directors of the new program will not be sure of what will be effective and what will not. As seen earlier, the D.A.R.E program has been in existence for over three decades, meaning that there is no well suited and equipped program than the D.A.R.E to handle children. The directors of the program have made many mistakes in the process to perfect the program. Starting a new one would mean going through the whole process that the D.A.R.E. program has gone through. Starting another program would need a lot of resources from the government or other sponsors. From the government, it would need money to help in researching on a program that would be presumed to work. After the study, it would require an entirely new training of the administrators, the people to run the program; new curriculum would be needed therefore a lot of money would be needed. Other than money, a lot of time would be wasted on the program’s drawing board and even in the field will trying to introduce something that has never been in the areas where it will be applied.
As proposed in the entire paper the best way to deal with the issues every research institution seem to bring up which is dealing away with the program is redeveloping it. Redeveloping means going through the questions that have been put forward and the areas that have been pointed out as not working and finding out solutions for them. The leaders of the D.A.R.E program are the best people to handle the exercise because the criticisms have been directed to them. They are the people who know what exactly in the program works and what does not work. Among the areas that have been pointed out to have been the issue is that the program at the start seems to equip the participants who are children with lots of information and not allowing for sufficient time for critical elements (Rab, Sara). As a result, the students become more resistant and passive to the program. The leaders were able to eliminate the problem as they were able to limit information given and allowed more time. The same way all the other problems with the D.A.R.E program can be identified and eliminated hence achievement of a better future for the children.
A program that impacts even on a single person in the society deserves to be around for an extended period of time. It is appropriate to say that D.A.R.E program is one of the few we have today. Therefore, we need to ensure that we maximize the number of people who are influenced by the program. The D.A.R.E program only needs a little Redevelopment to continue impacting on the lives of young people.
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