The D.A.R.E. program may be poised to make a comeback to the Morgan County School District.
“D.A.R.E. needs to be brought back into the school and community because I would rather students learn from a uniformed police officer in the classroom than from their friends,” said Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Taylor. “It really is community policing.”
Students would participate in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program on an opt-in basis, meaning parents would have to give their permission before students could participate.
Superintendent Ken Adams recommended the board reinstate the D.A.R.E. program, and board member Jody Hipwell made a motion to accept that recommendation at the latest school board meeting. However, the other board members said they wanted more time to read the program and outline before it is presented to students.
If implemented in Morgan schools, the program would likely be run one hour a week for several weeks. While some decry the loss of valuable instructional time, others say it is critical information students need.
Taylor said the issues covered by the program are part of school curriculum mandated by both the state and federal government. If the program was instituted in the district, it would take some pressure off of teachers, he said.
There was some debate at a recent school board meeting what grade would be best to participate in the D.A.R.E. program. Taylor said studies have shown fifth grade is the best choice, as students have not yet made the decision to participate in substance abuse or bullying.
Hipwell’s motion suggested using the program during seventh grade.
“I don’t care when we teach it, it is valuable,” Adams said.
“I think the program itself is amazing,” Hipwell said.
Taylor said the program wouldn’t teach children how to abuse substances, but how to handle the pressures around them.
“There’s a lot more to D.A.R.E. than drug and alcohol discussion,” Taylor said. “The new curriculum is how to say ‘no,’ dealing with bullying and peer pressure.”
Travis Lyman, a Morgan resident who works for the Layton Police Department, said the program would not introduce students to concepts they don’t already know, but educate them on the general negative effects of consuming drugs and alcohol in all their forms. The program is reliant on parent participation, he said.
“It is an amazing opportunity to get young kids to interact with the sheriff’s department,” Lyman said. “It breaks down those communication barriers.”
Taylor said the program rests on the “triangle” of the student, parents and police.
“Without the parents, we are nothing,” Taylor said.
Sheriff Blaine Breshears, who taught the program for five years, said D.A.R.E. takes away the negative stigma of speaking with a police officer and is a very cost effective program.
Taylor said he went through 150 hours of “intense, hard-core” training to become certified to teach D.A.R.E.
Parent Shalece Sanders, whose daughter attended a D.A.R.E. program in Davis County, said she was concerned when she found out the program was not in Morgan schools.
“Our kids could really benefit,” Sanders said. “it can really motivate a lot of kids that otherwise could not be reached. We need that back.”