Pubdate: Sun, 27 Feb 2005
Source: Appalachian News-Express (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Appalachian News-Express
Author: Rachel C. Stanley, News Editor
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Drug use in Pike County is evolving, and the DARE program to keep kids off 
drugs is changing with it.

The program, targeted at kids in fifth and sixth grades, has been revamped 
this year, said DARE officer Tolbert Ratliff, a deputy with the Pike County 
Sheriff's Office.

"Until now, it's basically been stand and preach," he says of the old DARE 

"Now, the DARE officer is more of a facilitator."

The idea, he said, is to start conversations with the kids - to lead 
discussions, and encourage them to ask questions.

"It lets them start to think," Ratliff said. "And you'd be surprised at the 
things they say."

DARE, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, began in Pike 
County in 1991.

This is the first major overhaul of the program.

At a recent DARE class in Jennifer Mink's fifth-grade class at Kimper 
Elementary, Ratliff tried to make the kids comfortable by joking with them, 
and asking lots of questions.

"I want us to get to know each other," he told the class.

"like the same things you guys like - pizza, you know," he said.

During the eight-week class, which meets once a week, Ratliff will talk 
about more than just drug abuse. Topics include bullying, peer pressure, 
alcohol use and other healthy lifestyle choices.

"Honesty is everthing in this class. I want you to be honest with me - and 
with yourself," Ratliff said.

One student, Ashley Rose, has been through the DARE class before, when she 
was a student at Johns Creek.

"It was interesting - it's fun stuff to learn about," she said.

But even though she enjoyed the last class, she said she likes the new, 
revamped program even more.

"It looks like it is going to be better this time around," Rose said.
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