Pubdate: Tue, 17 Aug 2004
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2004 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Lydia Harris
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Hundreds of Virgin Islands youths have stayed off drugs and alcohol
and away from violent behavior because of their exposure to DARE -
Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

The drug awareness and prevention program began in 1983 in Los Angeles
and came to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 1990s.

DARE, run in association with local police departments, targets
at-risk children because youths often go from drinking to drugs to
crime and violence.

On St. Thomas, the DARE program is incorporated with other V.I. Police
Department programs for youths, according to Kenneth Blake, the
territorial director of Crime Prevention.

Cpl. Sheila Middleton, DARE supervisor on St. Croix, said the program
there includes classes, open discussions, summer programs and
activities throughout the year.

Blake and Middleton both said DARE is a success, though Blake
acknowledged that coming up with accurate statistics is difficult
because of the way the program is operated on St. Thomas. Middleton,
on the other hand, estimated that 70 percent to 80 percent of students
who go through the program remain almost completely drug-free and

"Some may experiment, especially with alcohol," she said, but they
aren't getting drunk and causing trouble. In fact, she noted, few
teens get in trouble for drunken driving; rather, "most traffic
problems with youths are due to speeding."

The speeds set are based on road conditions, she added as a warning.
So, for example, when the sign says "30 miles per hour," it means the
road can't handle cars going 50. That's why a lot of accidents happen,
she said.

Blake said DARE also is "very successful" on St. Thomas, even though
"we do it on a part-time basis here."

The most direct presentation of DARE on St. Thomas is when officers go
into the schools and give presentations in classrooms or assemblies,
Blake said. "School security operates a similar program," he added.

Otherwise, students are exposed through Police Department programs
such as SADD - Students Against Destructive Decisions; Crime
Prevention Bureau Counseling; Police Athletic League; and summer
programs such as tutoring, sports, field trips, arts and crafts,
classroom work, recreation and other activities.

To prevent drug use among children and adolescents, "DARE teaches kids
how to recognize and resist the direct and subtle pressures that
influence them to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and
other drugs," according to the DARE Web site. "And since between 70
percent and 90 percent of all crime is drug related, it is absolutely
vital that we reach the children of America before it is too late."

For more information about DARE, call Middleton at 778-1001 or Blake
at 776-1525 or visit
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