Arkansas City D.A.R.E. Program
Drug Abuse Resistance Education was founded in 1983 as a cooperative effort between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Unified School District in Los Angeles, California. The purpose of the program is to place a trained, uniformed police officer in the schools to present a prevention program designed by educators. Since it’s inception, the program has spread not only throughout the United States, but the entire world.
In Arkansas City, the police department has offered the program for the last twelve years. Our program targets the fifth grade level in every elementary and one private school in town. At the fifth grade level, students receive ten, hour-long lessons, once a week, ranging in topics from drug awareness, to consequences, self-esteem, to positive alternative activities. The program ends with a ceremony to celebrate the students achievement and their commitment to stay drug-free and violence-free. This ceremony is usually scheduled at night and the presence of parents and friends is highly recommended. Another aspect of the program is the relationship created between officer and student. Students are allowed to see the officer as a person, rather than a uniform. Out of class time, such as recess and lunch, is spent with the students to encourage interaction and rapport.
The second target of our program in Arkansas City is the seventh grade. Seventh grade students receive ten lessons which build or reaffirm those lessons learned at the fifth grade level. Many of the same topics are explored placing special emphasis on character building and peer relations and the pressures that may spawn from social interaction. As with the fifth grade curriculum, seventh grade students are also offered a ceremony, however, this is an “at school” function held in front of their classmates. This section of instruction, again, focuses on building rapport with students by not only class time, but lunch and the attending of special events by the D.A.R.E. officer.
The third target of the program is the lower elementary levels of first and third grade. Each elementary school in Ark City and one private school receives these “visitation” lessons. At the first grade level, students receive four thirty minute visits covering topics such as general safety in the community, drug awareness, conflict resolution, and saying no to dangerous situations. At the third grade level, they receive five visits covering topics such as rules and laws, drug awareness, saying no to dangerous situations, conflict resolution, and gang awareness.
Students are continually receiving reinforcement of the ideas and principals set fourth in the D.A.R.E. program. As part of the Ark City Police Department’s Community Policing Division, we also offer a school resource officer at the Ark City High School. This position is currently filled part time by the D.A.R.E. officer. His role is to be present during school hours during the week and be a resource for faculty and students. The SRO is asked to do special presentations to classes, increase rapport with students during passing periods and lunch, and is involved in clubs and organizations at the high school level. Our current SRO is involved with Bulldog Crimestoppers and STARR.
The Ark City D.A.R.E. program has been and continues to be very involved in activities for youth. Every year, the program sponsors a New Year’s Eve Party for high school students. The D.A.R.E. officer is often called upon to appear at special events such as carnivals and health fairs. Presentations are often made to community organizations and groups on what we are doing with the program. D.A.R.E. often sponsors youth sport teams and other youth activities. Every summer the D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs offer a summer day camp for eligible students. This camp runs for one week offering a variety of activities, games, and life lessons.