Updating drug, alcohol, sex education in school

Friday, January 4, 2008

Although the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, better known as DARE, is common in school districts and is very popular among elementary-age students, the lessons are outdated and need to be revamped.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer is advocating a new program, called Enhanced HealthSmart, in place of DARE.

Enhanced HealthSmart will include what DARE covers but will include other topics such as Internet safety, nutrition, bullying, injury, unintended pregnancy and other sex education.

It also will be tailored to the needs and specifics of individual school districts, providing more flexibility than the DARE program.

Throughout elementary school I thought that the DARE program was extremely informational, and I believed it was going to make my school a better place. I now realize that I was so naive. Now that I am five years older and much more aware of what is actually going on in my community, I realize that the program has done next to nothing to help the drug, alcohol or violence issues that exist.

Although many students, including myself, choose to remain drug-free, there are many who do not. The students who resist the use of drugs or alcohol simply have willpower; they do not necessarily retain the information from DARE.

Although a major highlight of DARE was the interaction between the police officers and the students, police officers can be frightening to children who have only heard negative comments about them.

DARE has always tried to be a family-oriented program, but it tends to pit kids against their parents. In a number of communities around the country, students have been enlisted by DARE officers as informants against their parents.

As much as I feel that it is unacceptable to allow drugs or the overuse of alcohol in a house with young children - or in any situation, for that matter - I also believe children should not be pitted against their parents.

Another downside to the original program is that it teaches misleading information. According to the DARE program, Marlboro Light cigarettes, Bacardi rum and a drag from a joint are all equally dangerous. That information has been proven untrue.

The decision to end the DARE program was a good one. Enhanced HealthSmart is a much more beneficial program.

author: Alexa Bennett-Rosman |
Alexa Bennett- Rosman is a senior at Rocky Point High School.

source: newsday.com