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The D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was developed in California in 1983 and adopted by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1986. The purpose of D.A.R.E. is a united effort by D.A.R.E., Certified Law Enforcement Officers, educators, students, parents, and the community to offer an educational program in the classroom to prevent or reduce drug abuse, violence, and gang involvement among children and youth.

Our D.A.R.E. program is designed to help achieve America's educational goal. "Every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment of learning." The D.A.R.E. program is divided into two sections, one for Kindergarten through 4th grade and the other for the 5th graders.

In the K-4 program, the emphasis of the lessons is to assist the D.A.R.E. Officers in educating children to help keep them safe, drug-free and violence-free, and to teach them to recognize, avoid, and report situations, which may endanger their personal health and safety or that of another child. There are activities, which encourage discussion and develop problem-solving skills. We focus on helping students become aware of potential dangers in the misuse of any drug, medicine, or other substance. D.A.R.E. also, recognized the need at this level to help students develop awareness that ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO ARE DRUGS.

Our 5th grade core lessons are organized into ten 45-minute lessons to help students recognize and resist the many pressures that may influence them to experiment with drug, gangs, and violence. In addition, our program is planned to focus on Learning Ways to Say NO !, Building Their Self-Esteem, Managing Problems Without the Use of Drugs, and Choosing Positive Alternatives. An important element of D.A.R.E. is the use of student leaders, who do not use drugs, as positive role models in influencing younger students not to use drugs and to avoid violence.
These students are Juniors and Seniors from Amherst County High School, who are selected from a program known as S.O.D.A. These students take time to come and speak with and answer any questions the 5th graders may have pertaining to drugs, violence, and any concerns about middle or high school. These students share personal knowledge and experiences which help to relieve any tensions or apprehensions the 5th graders may have about future years of schooling.

One of the last things the 5th graders are asked to do is to write a D.A.R.E. Essay, which is making a personal commitment to stay drug free. One student from each class is selected as the essay winner and is awarded a special plush animal who is called DAREN, the D.A.R.E. program mascot.

D.A.R.E. is only a tool, it takes all of us (parents, schools, police, concerned citizens and the media) working together to save our children from the devastation of drugs and violence. Help educate today's youth, tomorrow's leaders by supporting the Amherst County Sheriff's Office DARE program.