DARE is currently taught at the following schools: Park, Brockbank, Rees, Larsen, Canyon, East Meadows, Spanish Oaks, and ALA. The DARE Officers assigned to the schools this year are: Justin Gordon, Zack Adams, Chris Sheriff and John Jackson. These officers build ties to the children that they teach about drugs, esteem building, peer pressure and "how to say no". These ties last far beyond when the children are in school.
Many professionals have argued whether the efforts of DARE are making a difference or not with our youth. Some argue that DARE is not an effective tool in keeping children off of drugs. Others will argue that DARE has a saved millions of children. You can find studies that will present evidence of both points of view. However, it is hard to argue with the fact that the fifth grade students in Spanish Fork get to see a local police officer in a positive way. This may, or may not, influence that child one way or another, but if we persuade just one student to not get involved in drugs then we have accomplished a great deal. It is our opinion that the relationship developed with the children and the local officers pays dividends for both the children and the Spanish Fork Police Department. If you see one of our DARE officers working an activity such as Fiesta Days or other public activities you will surly see a young DARE student seeking out the officer that came to their class when they were in fifth grade. One of the biggest rewards our DARE officers get is when the students come up and tell them how they are doing.
Here is some comments from the local DARE officers:
Officer Justin Gordon:
"DARE has been a great experience for me to get to know the kids and for them to get to know me. I have been blown away with how intelligent fifth graders are and how much they pay attention to what is going on around them. I think that DARE's greatest asset is for a relationship to be built between the kids and us as officers so that the kids understand that we are not just mean, scary guys".
Officer Zack Adams:
"To me, DARE is about hanging out, having fun, and building a small bridge of trust during these precious hours each week. My goal is to establish friendship with the youth and give the kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. I appreciate the opportunity to combat the overt pressures that cause them to experiment with drugs or other dangerous activities".
Officer John Jackson:
"DARE has been one of the best career choices that I have made. The relationship developed with the kids over the years is one of the things I am the most proud of. Through DARE I have come to appreciate what dedicated and wonderful teachers we have in our community. The relationship with the children has been something that I still am amazed at. It is great to see them grow up and turn into successful students and citizens. It is neat when they come up to say hello and tell about what they have going on in their lives. I don't know if it is a realistic expectation to put a police officer in a fifth grade classroom 12 times for an hour while the student is 10 years old and expect them to not make any mistakes throughout their life. However, I can tell you that the kids will learn that police are not like they are portrayed on television. My goal is to show the kids that we are normal people. We have fun in class and hopefully learn while were at it. I have always enjoyed teaching DARE because of the teachers and children in our schools".
Officer Ryan Farnworth:
"DARE is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to speak to the students about the real dangers of using things that can be harmful and deadly to their bodies. It is also a great opportunity for the students to get to know the police in a way that most people don't get to see. The students love to see us in their classroom and I really enjoy being able to associate with them in that setting".
The DARE curriculum consists of the following lessons:
- Saying "no" to Tobacco
- Saying "no" to Marijuana
- Saying "no" to Alcohol
- Saying "no" to all Drugs
- Having a positive Self-Esteem
- Dealing with Peer Pressure
- Effective Decision Making
- dealing with the effects of the Media
- High School Role Models (successful local high school students come to the class to visit with the children
- A culmination ceremony where the kids get a DARE shirt and accept a Certificate with their parents present.
DARE is funded by two government entities. First the Spanish Fork Police Department funds the program by paying the officers to teach the class as well as providing classroom material such as a workbook and pencil. The DARE shirt expense is split between the school and the police department.