Drug Abuse Resistance Education, known as the D.A.R.E Program, is in full swing at Clinton City Schools - including Clinton, North Clinton, and South Clinton Elementary. Since its inception in 1995 under the leadership of Chief Rick Scarbrough, Clinton's then Community Relations Officer, approximately 1700 area children have been impacted by this collaborative effort of the Clinton Police Department, Clinton School System and community volunteers. Weekly classes focusing on the dangers of drugs and how to deal with peer pressure are conducted at each school for 5th-graders by Clinton Police Department's D.A.R.E. Officer, Det. Sgt. Russell Barker.
During the 50-minute, interactive sessions, students are presented D.A.R.E.'s core curriculum emphasizing key elements, such as teaching students to recognize internal pressures like anxiety and stress, and external pressures like peer attitudes and advertising, along with the personal, social, and refusal skills to resist these pressures. Students are also given an opportunity to openly discuss the topics and share personal concerns and questions.
One week of the program, several Clinton High School students participate in the D.A.R.E. education program, speaking with the children about how to avoid common pitfalls as they move into the higher grades.
"Although students may erroneously believe that 'everyone' is using drugs, alcohol and tobacco, I am helping them understand that it is not the norm among Clinton's teen population," says Detective Sgt Barker, who began teaching the course in 2005. "The positive reception by the students has been great. And, I believe we are making a difference in the lives of our youth," he adds.
Created in 1993 in Los Angeles, California, D.A.R.E is a national program designed to provide children with the life skills needed to avoid the dangers of drugs, gangs and violence. It is estimated that 26 million youth in the US and a total of 36 million worldwide will benefit from D.A.R.E this year, which is in 75 percent of US school districts and in 54 countries around the world.
The Department of Justice has identified many positive community impacts of the program including improved communications between youth and law enforcement that serve as a conduit to providing information beyond drug-related topics. For more information, visit www.dare.com or contact Russell Barker at the Clinton Police Department, 865-457-3112.