Today's Question: Post-DARE, who will provide substance abuse education?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 | 11:48 a.m. CDT; updated 4:33 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 7, 2009

With the elimination of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program from Columbia Public Schools, the Columbia School Board is trying to find different approaches to teaching fifth-grade students about substance abuse.

Elimination of the program is in response to the six school resource officers taking time away from patrolling Columbia’s middle and junior high schools to lead DARE classes at elementary schools, said Detective Jeff Westbrook, a spokesman for the Columbia Police Department.

A method that was to be discussed at the board meeting on Tuesday involves incorporating the concepts into the health curriculum and then reinforcing these concepts in middle school with the resource officers, said Wanda Brown, assistant superintendent for secondary education for the district.

John Warner, a school resource officer and chief DARE instructor, agreed with the importance of introducing the topic at this age.

"The idea of placing it at a fifth-grade level lets you talk to them before they have the potential for drug abuse," Warner said.

Warner hopes that though the DARE program has not worked for all, an equal replacement will be established as a "starting place" for drug education.

"I can say as a 20-year veteran of the DARE program, I've seen the positive results over and over again," Warner said.

The decision to eliminate DARE was a joint effort of the schools, the Police Department and the district, said Jessie Haden, a Columbia police spokeswoman.

With the elimination of the DARE program, what other methods should be put in place to educate students about substance abuse?


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Josh Chittum July 7, 2009 | 6:47 p.m.

Perhaps we could find a program that disseminates truth. Not one that spews scare tactics.

And if you think the D.A.R.E. program actually works, check out some studies posted at the link below. (I know it's Wiki, but each study is cited at the bottom of the page and you can do further research if you want)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 7, 2009 | 7:45 p.m.

I'd suggest some kind of community partnership coalition comprised of representatives from the PTA/CPS, the student population, Law enforcement/Penal System/Family Court, Phoenix Program, CrossRoads, Booneville's Valley Hope, Burrell Behavioral, 12-step substance abuse programs, Reformed/Sober Musicians, Youth Ministries and Business Owners, etc. to create a varied educational experience and exposure to the pitfalls of drug/substance abuse, peer pressure and handling the hormonal and development challenges of adolescents and interpersonal growth.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 7, 2009 | 8:03 p.m.

Well presented ray shapiro.

(Report Comment)
Heather Harlan July 17, 2009 | 9:17 a.m.

We can say a big thank you to the DARE folks for trying something, at the same time this is an opportunity for CPS to move to substance abuse prevention, early intervention and treatment methods that can show they are effective. Community is KEY--to provide positive development for youth and for adults to quit winking at underage use. Check out the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices ( The community is ripe to work together as Ray S. suggested.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond July 17, 2009 | 11:01 a.m.

DARE failed because it treated every single drug like it was heroin. Lets be fair, smoking pot and shooting heroin aren't even in the same ball park. However, when you frame it like that and kids see that some of their friends smoke pot and they aren't robbing people to get their sweet green leafy fix and still getting good grades they are going to question what you taught them about marijuana and every other drug.

In 2001 the Surgeon General said the program doesn't work, I'm not sure why we kept it around for as long as we did.

(Report Comment)
Drug Rehabs March 8, 2010 | 6:12 a.m.
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