DARE-FREE COMMUNITIES

Partial list of cities and towns that have discontinued the D.A.R.E program.

  1. Pescadero, CA.
  2. La Honda, CA.
  3. Lincoln, ME.
  4. Worley, OH.
  5. Ridgewood, NJ
  6. Oakland, CA
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Spokane, WA
  9. Fayetteville, NC
  10. Lawrence, MA
  11. Bend, Redmond, Oregon
  12. Wasco County, Oregon

The Bend Bulletin pages 1 and 2
1526 NW Hill St., Bend, Oregon 97701
Ph# 541-383-0362, Fax# 541-385-5802,
E-mail: bulletin@bendnet.com
Pubdate: Feb 10th 1998

Central Oregon police are united in the effort to keep kids away from drugs. But Drug Abuse Resistance Education hasn't drawn the same unqualified support.

DARE programs are going strong in Bend and Redmond, which each devote one officer to teaching the drug education classes. But the cirriculum was a casualty of Deschutes County's budget this year. Sheriff Greg Brown says the program is not successful enough to justify its cost.

" I can't justify a full-time deputy teaching DARE when people are waiting for a deputy to come to their home." Brown said. " It comes back to priorities."

This is the first year the county has not had the program since it began in the 1980's. Brown said there were no plans to bring it back for next year.

Prineville police also cut the program this year but hope to bring it back next school year. Capt. Tim Pinkston said man power and a budget crunch made it impossible this year. Next year, the city hopes to use federal grant money to pay for a community police officer who will work with the schools and teach the program.

DARE has received mixed reviews around the country. Some studies show no difference in drug use rates between students who have and have not gone through the program.

Others, including a Marion County study, say students who miss the program are more likely to use drugs and alcohol.

Local proponents of the program say it's benefits extend beyond drug and alcohol education. Jim Walsh, DARE officer with the Bend police, said making kids more comfortable around police has wide-ranging effects. Kids get to know police as human beings, he said.

" The kids get to know that police aren't just driving around giving tickets" said Craig Unger, Redmond's community relations officer and DARE instructor.

DARE involves a 17 week curriculum for all fifth-graders plus visits to other grade levels.

The classes teach about the physical and psychological effects of drugs and alcohol. Through role playing and discussion, they also teach more general skills, such as self-confidence, assertiveness and standing up to peer pressure.

" The idea is to approach them first,educate them," Walsh said. " Hopefully they'll be able to make the right choices when they are approached."

Buckingham Elementry, one of the Bend-La Pine schools that lost DARE this year, has felt the absence of the program.

" I think it's a lost opportunity for a lot of students," said guidance counselor Tom Troxell. " I'm sad to see it leave." He said students benefit from seeing police in a netural situation, rather than on a home visit or other crisis situation. As a counselor at Cascade Middle School, Troxell said he asked visiting police officers to spend some time with a group of kids in the lunch room. When the police caught those kids running around at 1 o'clock (am), they had a bond with them. It made things a lot easier," Troxell said.

The Culver and Jefferson County Schools have kept their DARE programs, and the Madras Police Department has an officer who works extensively with the high school and middle school.

Although the Deschutes County Sherriff's Department no longer teaches DARE, a patrol deputy is stationed in La Pine schools, and other programs aimed at youth include Juvenile Empowerment Teams in Sisters and La Pine.

" DARE was good at the time, but I think it's time to move on," Brown said. " Officers are still making contact with the kids."

More than 750 fifth-graders at six Bend-La Pine elementry schools get DARE instruction. Walsh also teaches DARE at Trinity Lutheran and St.Francis of Asisi schools. The Bend Police Department funds supplies for all the districts schools as well as Walsh's salary.

DARE is taught in four Redmond elementry schools.

Unger estimates 60 to 70 percent of the kids who go through the Redmond program stay away from drugs and alcohol when they get to high school. He also touts DARE as being a cost effective way to reach fifth-graders.

" A lot of people say DARE isn't working," Unger said. " Well, if it doesn't work, let's find something else. But let's not flush it down the toilet. Anything is better than nothing."


 

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