MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Fewer and fewer kids in Broward and Palm Beach counties are daring to take a D.A.R.E. course.
D.A.R.E, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is a ten week course which teaches kids how to handle peer pressure and avoid drugs. In 2008, more than 6,300 Broward and Palm Beach students signed up to take the course. Last year, only about 2,400 students completed it, according to The Sun-Sentinel.
Why the change. Some schools say the D.A.R.E program, which was founded in 1983, is dated and ineffective. Others have taken the class time and use it to prepare students for the Florida Comprehensive Aptitude Test (FCAT).
Some police agencies have said as their budgets grow tighter, they don’t have the money to keep teaching the class. While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement covers training costs for officers in the program, they do not cover the officer’s travel expenses and the costs of the D.A.R.E T-shirt and workbook each student is given.
In Coconut Creek, 11 year old Erin Connors who is a graduate of the program says it’s had a profound impact on her.
“I knew older kids who did drugs but i didn’t think middle school kids would do drugs,” she explained. “The D.A.R.E. instructor taught us what to do when someone has drugs and how to say no.”
Coconut Creek police officer Michael Zombek says it’s sad so many schools have done away with D.A.R.E.
“The children are so impressionable at this age, between the internet and television. They may not get the facts they need,” said Zombek.
Susan Mochen, who grew up in Homestead, is the education director for the D.A.R.E. Officers Association of Florida said the program remains strong in Miami-Dade County and is not sure why it’s not still flourishing in Broward and Palm Beach.
“It’s really concerning, because in certain communities there’s a really high use of drugs and alcohol,” Mochen told the paper.
Mochen credits the program for keeping her away from drugs when she was growing up.
The program uses skits, games and workbooks to get the students involved. Recently, the national D.A.R.E. offices have added chapters on gang violence and prescription-drug abuse.
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