Pam Dudding-Burch Contributing writer

Not too many people in life have gone without someone at least once saying, “I dare you!”
The most important part of decision-making is understanding that there are always consequences with every decision. This statement is valid in life, regardless of age, yet it is a prominent fact when teaching young children the important issues of life.


At Craig County Public Schools the program DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is being taught to fifth grade classes by one of the local police officers, Kenneth Davis. He is the School Resource and the DARE Officer for the CCPS System and has taught DARE since 2001 with the exception of two years.

“McCleary Elementary is happy to be collaborating with our resource officer to bring DARE into our classrooms,” Principal Gerri VanDyke shared. “The curricula addresses drugs, violence, bullying, internet safety and other high-risk circumstances that today are too often a part of our student’s lives.”

DARE was founded in 1983 as a partnership between the Los Angeles police Department and the L.A. public schools. The idea was simple; officers would go into the schools and talk with the students about the different types of drugs and the impact they can have on the body and mind.

Officer Davis shared that he stresses to his students that, “There can be good consequences, rewards or bad consequences some type of punishment.” He always adds: “When making your decision it is important to know all the facts involved and weigh all of your choices.”

The DARE program shares the different types of pressure that the children might encounter, ranging from friendly peer pressure to threatening physical harm if they do not try the drug. “The program goes further than the ‘Just Say No’ campaign instituted by Nancy Reagan,” Davis added. “DARE not only encourages children to say no but also teaches them methods in which tobacco and alcohol companies seek to entice them to use their products.”

There is also a section that equips the children with methods on ‘how’ to say no. It can be as simple as saying no or as detailed as saying no and then offering reasons why it is important to do such.

“I talk with the students about peer pressure and explain that a peer is someone close to their age or a little older, someone they can connect with,” Davis said. “I explain that it is easier to go along with the crowd than to say no because you are afraid of being treated as an outcast.” He emphasizes to them that in reality, when they resist the temptation of trying the drug then they are often respected for being strong enough to say no.

“I also stress the important of going places in a group rather than alone because you are not as easy a target,” Davis added. “The one trying to get you to use drugs does not feel comfortable addressing a group because they know that there is strength in numbers.”

“You define the problem, opportunity or challenge. You look at your choices. You make a choice and then you review your decision and ask yourself…did I make the right choice?” Davis explained.
Davis also shared that there have been different opinions as to whether DARE works or not. “There are no definable statistics that point to the success of the program but I personally had former students come to me and tell me the DARE program was one of the main reasons they did not try drugs,” he said.

DARE will continue to be taught at CCPS as also gives the students a person whom they know they can go to and trust if something happens. “I believe in the program and believe that it has prevented many from going down the path of a drug induced lifestyle,” Davis concluded.

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