FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program teaches Fort Rucker fifth graders drug prevention and gives them the skills they need to resist peer pressure.
"The program begins every year in the second week of February, and is a 10-week curriculum in which we teach the students drug and alcohol awareness, and give them the skills they need to resist them," said Peggy Contreras, community police supervisor.
One of the preventive measures that the program teaches the students is how to recognize pressure from peers and advertisements.
"We try to show the students how companies can try to lure them into smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol by using advertising," said Contreras. "We teach them how to recognize certain persuasive techniques that the advertisers might use.
"The students are shown different advertisements in newspapers and television and get to decipher how the advertisers are using these techniques to persuade them," she said.
The program is also used as a tool to build a relationship between the students and police officers.
"It's a time for children to interact with local law enforcement and build a liaison with the officers," said the supervisor. "We don't want children to be afraid of law enforcement; we want them to know that officers are here to help."
According to Contreras, it is also important to set up a forum for children to be able to speak out and talk about issues that they might have. DARE helps give the children that forum.
"The program not only wants to educate the students, but give them a voice," she said. "A lot of times, children have things to say and we as adults don't have time to listen. Parents should get involved with their children and, most importantly, listen to them.
"Most of the time, as parents, we get busy and we get so involved in life that even when children are trying to say something important, we miss it," said the supervisor. "As a parent, if your child wants to talk to you about drugs or something that he or she isn't comfortable with, give the child your attention and let them know you are listening."
The DARE program offers an open door for students to talk to any of the officers or teachers involved with the program, but are encouraged to talk with parents first.
"We are excited about starting the program and looking forward to meeting all the students in the new class this year," said Contreras.
For more information about the DARE program, call 255-3273.