The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office this week announced plans to expand the Drug Abuse and Resistance Education Program, known as D.A.R.E., into county middle schools this year.
Sixth grade students will receive ten lessons during the six-week program, taught in the spring during health and PE classes. A follow-up instructional class also will be taught to all 8th graders. In the past only 5th graders received the lessons in elementary school.
“Our goal is to reinforce the lessons learned during the elementary school program and help students combat peer pressure during their middle school years, a very vulnerable time,” said Sheriff Mike Chapman.
D.A.R.E. was designed to reach the general population, rather than "at-risk" groups. Research has shown that fifth and sixth grade are times when children are receptive to anti-drug messages.
The program expansion comes at no cost since current members of the LCSO’s School Resource Officer Unit assigned to county middle schools will teach it. School Resource Officers attend 80 hours of training for D.A.R.E. The program has three main goals:
- First, D.A.R.E. seeks to provide students with a knowledge base on the effects of drug abuse that goes beyond the physical ramifications and extends to emotional, social, and economic aspects of life.
- Secondly, DARE aims to build decision-making and problem solving skills and strategies to help students make informed decisions and resist drug use, peer pressure, and violence.
- Lastly, an integral part of the program is to provide students with alternatives to drug use.
Members of the LCSO have taught the D.A.R.E. program to Loudoun students since 1987.