Rave Radio: Offline (0/0)
Email: Password:
News (Media Awareness Project) - US FL: DARE Drug Program Disappearing From South Florida
Title:US FL: DARE Drug Program Disappearing From South Florida
Published On:2012-01-03
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Fetched On:2012-01-08 06:02:46

The iconic D.A.R.E. anti-drug program -- once a fixture in South
Florida schools -- is becoming a relic.

Fewer students in Palm Beach and Broward counties are parading the
once-popular T-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan "D.A.R.E. to
keep kids off drugs." In 2011, only 2,430 students in both counties
completed the 10-week course, state records show. That's a sharp drop
from 2008, when 6,318 students took part.

Police agencies say they don't have enough money to keep teaching the
class, which aims to show kids how to handle peer pressure and avoid
drugs. Rather, most schools use class time to prepare students for
Florida Comprehensive Aptitude Tests, authorities say. Others claim
D.A.R.E. is outdated and ineffective.

But most people agree on one thing: They're sad to see the program

"I wish I could wave a magic wand and end the funding mess to bring
the program back," said Susan Mochen, who works for the Palm Beach
County School District and serves as education director for the
D.A.R.E. Officers Association of Florida.

Mochen credits D.A.R.E. -- which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance
Education -- for keeping her drug-free while growing up in Homestead.
The program remains strong in Martin and Miami-Dade counties, Mochen
said, but it's unclear why most schools in Palm Beach and Broward
counties have abandoned it.

"It's really concerning, because in certain communities there's a
really high use of drugs and alcohol," Mochen said.

Only one school in Palm Beach Gardens and one in North Palm Beach
offered D.A.R.E. in 2011. Delray Beach was the latest to abandon the
28-year-old program.

Two sergeants taught the course at two city schools, but stopped in
2010 after teachers said they needed more class time to prepare
students for the FCAT, said Delray Beach police Sgt. Nicole Guerriero,
a former D.A.R.E. officer.

The department also lacks the money to pay for the D.A.R.E. workbooks,
stickers and T-shirts, she said.

"We've been told to do more with less, and at some point we have to do
less with less," Guerriero said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement covers training costs for
officers in the program, but each agency must pay the trainee's travel
expenses, plus $6.39 per student for a D.A.R.E. workbook and T-shirt.

The program, developed by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983,
uses skits, games and workbooks to engage students. Boca Raton police
were the first to bring the curriculum to Palm Beach County, and by
1989, all fifth-graders in the county were required to complete it.

All that changed a decade later, when a widely quoted study said that
a group of children in Illinois who participated in D.A.R.E. reported
higher rates of drug use than students who did not participate. The
study's author, Dennis Rosenbaum, said new research was needed to
re-evaluate the program.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office dropped D.A.R.E. the following
year, and has since tested other anti-drug and anti-violence programs
with students. Today, several police agencies are preparing to teach
an after-school course called G.R.E.A.T., according to the Palm Beach
County Criminal Justice Commission.

The program, which stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training,
is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Research shows [D.A.R.E.] is just not as effective as it used to be,"
said Brenda Oakes, youth violence prevention planning coordinator for
the commission. "It probably wouldn't work for somebody who already
has substance-abuse issues."

The national D.A.R.E. offices have revamped the program to include
chapters on gang violence and prescription-drug abuse, according to
the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In Broward County, police in Margate, Hallandale Beach and Coconut
Creek continue to teach D.A.R.E. and say it's worth the cost.

School Resource Officer Jamie Lombardo has taught the program to
fifth-graders at Liberty Elementary in Margate for four years. It's
hard to measure the success of D.A.R.E., she said, but she knows it
works because many students have recognized her years later and told
her the impact it made.

"In middle school there are more opportunities for temptation and peer
pressure. We want to prepare them for that," she said.

Do police think the nation's most widely used anti-drug program will
disappear? They said they hope not. Delray Beach is considering
sending its two D.A.R.E. officers back into schools. It's crucial for
police to connect with children and gain their trust, Guerriero said.

"I hope at some point the economy gets better," she said, "and
everybody realizes how important the program is."
Member Comments
No member comments available...