Pubdate: Sun, 09 Dec 2001
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2001 The Decatur Daily
Author: Emily McMackin, Daily Staff Writer


When Christine Johnson's fifth-graders at Leon Sheffield Elementary School 
started the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, they didn't 
seem enthusiastic.

"They gave a lot of one-word answers (to questions Officer T.A. Burleson 
asked)," Ms. Johnson said.

By the end of the 17-week program, students turned in long, detailed essays 
about what they learned in the program.

"It provides them with an atmosphere where they feel comfortable asking 
questions they wouldn't otherwise," Ms. Johnson said.

D.A.R.E., a program that started in Los Angeles in 1983, places police 
officers in the classroom.

The officers talk to students about peer pressure and self-esteem and offer 
them ways to say no to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, gangs and violence.

In Decatur, officers see students in third, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth 
and 10th grades. In Morgan County, deputies work with students in fifth 
grade. Police departments fund the program, but school systems help with 
curriculum cost.

"I feel that the D.A.R.E. program has really made me understand how drugs 
can harm people," wrote Leon Sheffield fifth-grader Amberly Devaney.

Officers explain the consequences of drugs and violence to students, 
Decatur senior DARE officer Greg Cain said.

"Officer T.A. taught us stuff like, if you get busted selling drugs, you 
can go to prison for about 10 years," Leon Sheffield fifth-grader Randy 
Kyle wrote.

Students are often surprised by the repercussions they could face, Ms. 
Johnson said.
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