The Amherst Police Department has taught the DARE curriculum since the 1990-1991 school years through a cooperative arrangement between the Amherst Middle School and the Amherst Police Department. The D.A.R.E. program is funded in large part through the generous, annual donations of community groups such as the Amherst Junior Women’s Club and the Milford Masonic Lodge.
In 1983, the DARE program originated in Los Angeles, California when their Police Chief, and school officials, collaborated to write a drug prevention program for youths. The original curriculum was designed to be taught by a police officer to the 5th or 6th grade students once a week for seventeen weeks. This structured program went through its first revision in 1994 to include a greater emphasis on violence and nicotine. In 2003, the DARE program was again revised, and the “core” 5th grade program was reduced from seventeen to ten weeks. With that reduction came a second, follow up, component taught at the 7th grade level. The 7th grade program is integrally related and is also taught once a week for ten weeks. The core D.A.R.E. program at the Amherst Middle School had previously been provided to 5th graders, who then received follow up instruction in the 7th grade.
However, beginning in the spring of 2013, the core program shifted its focus from 5th grade to 6th grade, and is still followed up by the 7th grade program. With this change, students now receive two solid, back-to-back years of D.A.R.E. instruction for an even more meaningful and rewarding experience as they enter their last year of middle school and prepare for their transition to high school.
By participating in the D.A.R.E. program, students receive instruction in topics such as:
- Facts and health affects related to drug use (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants)
- Advertising & the Surgeon General’s warnings
- National data relating to actual student usage to compare against “common beliefs”
- Friendship foundations, Peer pressure, and recognizing the different types of peer pressure
- Ways to stay out of and get out of risky situations
- Students learn confident response styles
- Students learn to recognize the internal pressure we place on ourselves
And at the beginning of the program, they learn the DARE decision making model. Which is to: D-Define, A-Assess (choices), R-Respond, E-Evaluate. This model being one they can use not only during the DARE program, but in their daily lives as well.
This positive life skills program is designed to teach children about the dangers of drug abuse and to help them develop the skills necessary to resist drug use and avoid violence. More than 100 million youths, worldwide, are estimated to have successfully completed the DARE program.
The DARE program is designed to supplement instruction children receive at home. It is not designed to be the sole solution or a “cure all” for the nation’s drug problem. It is an important step in a process of drug prevention education that must include Parents and Schools, in addition to, the community, churches, media, and elected leaders.
If you would like additional information on the Amherst DARE program, please feel free to contact our DARE Officer, Officer Sarah Gacek.