Pubdate: Thu, 04 May 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Daniel L. Frazell
Note: Officer Daniel L. Frazell is the past president of the National DARE 
Officers Association.


I love this time of year for many reasons. Summer is heading this way, the 
days are longer and one of the best lessons in DARE takes place. Last week 
at Fairmount School, the role model lessons were held for fifth-graders. 
The concept is quite simple. Kids from Bangor High School and John Bapst 
Memorial High School come and share with the kids the importance of not 
using drugs, not resorting to violence to solve problems and the benefit of 
a good education.

Several students came to the elementary school and shared what life is 
really like for a high schooler these days. Several of these role models 
had DARE when they were in fifth grade. Obviously DARE is most effective 
when taught at the fifth grade, the 10-week follow-up program in seventh 
grade and then the 10-week high school curriculum taught mostly to 
freshmen. However, of those who had DARE at only the fifth-grade level, 
most recalled some of the program. Perhaps it was best put by one junior 
who said, "I don't remember all the details, but I know it had a big impact 
on my attitude toward drugs."

The questions posed by the fifth-graders varied from serious at times to 
humorous at other times. From "Why is education important?" to "Can you 
chew gum?" The questions had a wide range of topics. One interesting 
question that always comes up is when the fifth-graders ask the high 
schoolers who their role model is. Coaches, older brothers and sisters, 
uncles, cousins, a grandparent and a family friend were some of the more 
popular ones, but by far and away, the No. 1 answer was Dad and-or Mom. 
Parents should never underestimate the influence they have on their 
children regardless of the circumstances. Let's all remember something: You 
could teach a child DARE every day, but that will not be as effective as 
Mom and Dad being Mom and Dad, not just when it's convenient, but all the 
time. (Notice there were no athletes, movie stars or rock stars mentioned.) 
One of the role models had this observation when he said, "Don't look at 
just one person and try to be just like they are. I take something I admire 
from some key people in my life and then add that with what I like about me 
and that's who I am.

This lesson is a refreshing sight to see and hear. Because in this day and 
age when all we report about on the news or in the paper are about those 
kids who are doing the drugs, committing the crimes or breaking the law, we 
must wave flags now and then for the kids who don't; the ones who don't 
make up the statistics that we all measure the worth of any program by. You 
need not ask me about the effectiveness of DARE. I could bury you with 
facts and stats to prove it's well worth the $12 spent on each fifth-grader.

Perhaps it's amazing that we have the caliber and number of role models 
that we do from the high school ranks. After all, we are a society that is 
allowing the media to kill our kids every day. I don't mean it in the 
literal sense. But the entertainment portion of the media has done a number 
on the spiritual part of children. As one high school student said about 
this, "TV has dulled kids' senses today." The music industry has become one 
big competition to see which artist can swear the most and put out the most 
idiotic lyrics to date. Gangster rap marches on while proudly singing about 
drugs, violence and the killing of police officers. Television programs 
like "South Park" and those on MTV have made any sense of values worthless. 
Sex is promoted non-stop on the airwaves. We continue to promote the most 
abused drug on the planet as if it were precious as gold. And through all 
this we are amazed when we learn that even the "good kids" may have tried 
dope or sex or alcohol.

Kids are kids. But we as a society have seen drastic changes. So when you 
meet those high school kids like I did last week and you discover these are 
the ones who aren't abusing drugs and aren't destroying others' property 
and aren't breaking the law and are focused on a higher education, tell 
them you're proud of them and that you wish them luck. Tell them we need 
more just like them. And if you ever meet the parents of these kids, tell 
that Mom and Dad that they, too, should be proud of their children.

Officer Daniel L. Frazell is the past president of the National DARE 
Officers Association.
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