Tri-Command Communities hosts D.A.R.E.

9 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Elyssa Quesada

Drug Abuse Resistance Education is now incorporated in schools across the nation, including the Laurel Bay school system by the Air Station’s military police.

The program is more than just drug prevention education, it teaches students good decision making skills helping them avoid high-risk behavior, according to

“The program gives children the skills needed to recognize and resist the subtle and overt peer pressures causing them to experiment with drugs or become involved in gangs or violent activities,” said Cpl. Ehricka Maness, a D.A.R.E. officer for the Department of Defense schools.

Children benefit from the program by equipping them with the knowledge they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.

“I think it’s critical for students to have someone they know and trust, to learn about anything from alcohol and tobacco abuse in a school setting,” said Dr. Jacque Taton-Saunders, the principal of Bolden Elementary/Middle School.

The classes are a series of lessons led by police officers who teach children from kindergarten through 12th grade on how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.

“The program gives the children the ability to recognize when they are in a bad situation and when and how to get out of it,” Maness added.

Prior to entering the D.A.R.E. program, officers undergo 80 hours of special training in areas such as child development, classroom management, teaching techniques and communication skills.

“The classes are important, so when you grow up you know drugs are bad and can cause a lot of damage to your body,” said Owen Dunne, a 5th grade student at Bolden.

Role play, cards, videos and books are also incorporated in the classroom lessons in order to simulate how to get out of bad circumstances.

 “I think the friendship lesson is important to learn,” Maness said. “Hopefully, together they will stay out of bad situations.”

The lesson describes what a friend is, and what qualities can be found in a friend. It also goes into ways the students know that someone isn’t there friend, through situations like peer pressure. It teaches them ways to recognize a bad situation and how to get out of it.

The D.A.R.E. curriculum is designed to be taught by police officers whose training and experience gives them the background needed to answer questions that young students present about drugs and crime.

“Examples are given and explained why a substance is bad,” Maness said. “It is also important for the students to know how to recognize a bad substance. Then they are taught how to say ‘no.’”

After the classes, a D.A.R.E. essay is assigned to the students by the D.A.R.E. officers. The essay is a pledge the children make in order to follow what was taught throughout the class.

“It is vital the children learn these life lessons in a controlled setting in order to prepare them for life in or outside of school,” Maness said.

By the end of the school year Maness and Staff Sgt. Rob Sallee, a D.A.R.E. officer for DoD schools, will have taught more than 300 individual classes to Laurel Bay students.