Pubdate: Sun, 29 Aug 2004
Source: Times and Democrat, The (SC)
Copyright: 2004, The Times and Democrat
Author: Minnie Miller
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


BAMBERG - Daily news reports of violence, drug abuse and crime often
seem to outweigh the good news on both the local and national level.

Sgt. Adrienne Blume of the Bamberg County Sheriff's Office, however,
is convinced that the D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education,
program has had a positive impact on reducing the amount of bad news
in Bamberg County and beyond.

The South Carolina D.A.R.E. Association presented the 2004 D.A.R.E.
Agency of the Year award to the Bamberg County Sheriff's Office on
July 15 at the annual conference. Blume credits the success of the
program to the hard work and dedication of the entire sheriff's office
as well as the cooperation and support of local schools and businesses.

Blume measures the success of the program, which is in its 14th year
in Bamberg County, by the impact it has had on students, their
families and, consequently, the community as a whole.

"Through the D.A.R.E. program, kids and their families come to realize
that law officers are their friends," Blume said. "Students also come
to realize that what they do can have a domino effect - that one act
of abuse or violence affects many, many other people."

A 21-year law enforcement veteran, Blume conducts in-school programs
with fifth-grade students at Richard Carroll Elementary (campus B),
Ehrhardt Elementary, Andrew Jackson Academy and Denmark-Olar
Elementary School in Bamberg County.

She also visits 4K- through 4th-grade classrooms with special programs.

Blume estimates that between 24 to 36 agencies across South Carolina
still participate in the D.A.R.E. program. Many schools, however, have
dropped the program, Blume said, because of lack of funds or because
they switched to other programs.

"Bamberg has stuck with it because Sheriff (Ed) Darnell is very
supportive of the program and realizes that the need is still there,"
Blume said. "The kids are still enthusiastic about the program, and
the schools are very, very supportive."

The D.A.R.E. program has been retooled for the upcoming school year,
Blume said, making it more updated and revising it to include more
problem-solving aspects.

The program, which originally was designed as a 17-week program, will
now be completed in 12 weeks. "This will be a positive thing," Blume
said. "It keeps all the core aspects of the program yet gives kids a
greater chance to take what I teach them and come up with ways to deal
with situations."

Blume covers a gamut of situations in her lessons with fifth graders.
Emphasis is put on having a positive attitude toward peers and good
character. Students are shown the damaging effects of drug abuse and
violence, not only on the individual but the family and community. "We
focus on the fifth-grade level when kids are getting ready to move up
to middle school," Blume said. "Studies show that this reaches them
before they are being approached to become involved in drugs and crime."

By giving students the tools to work with in situations from
name-calling to the temptations of skipping school or doing drugs, a
negative event can be handled in a positive way.

Blume has accumulated an extensive library of videotapes and photo
albums from past D.A.R.E. programs and graduations.

"I like to look back and see where I can improve on my speeches, and I
find inspiration in the past programs," she said.

Blume is reminded on a daily basis that the Bamberg County D.A.R.E.
program is a continuing success - that as an instructor she has headed
off potentially negative situations and made a positive impact on the

"Several of our graduates are now in the military and are serving in
Iraq," Blume said.

She credits the D.A.R.E. program for helping many of her students see
the benefits of simply staying in school and successfully graduating.

Blume encourages parents to listen when their fifth graders tell them
what they've learned in D.A.R.E. class. There is a lesson there for
parents as well, she said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin