This year's DARE classes for sixth-graders almost didn't happen, and that would have been a shame.
In the Brainerd School District, sixth-graders learn about drugs from a police officer in a fun, informal atmosphere, thanks to DARE or Drug Abuse Resistance Education funding.
Illegal Drugs are still a big problem and those who think it's only a big city problem are deluding themselves. Law enforcement have seen meth labs cropping up in rural Minnesota with increasing frequency.
Young people are going to learn about drugs. If parents and police aren't offering the facts, the kids will get their information from those adolescents who are experimenting with drugs. Ideally, every parent should discuss with their children how best to react if they are offered illegal drugs. All too often, however, this doesn't happen. The parents either don't have the information or they are uncomfortable discussing the topic with their children.
Children are often more receptive to a outsider such as a police officer telling them about drugs, rather than their parents. Parents sometimes get tuned out when they repeat the same-old, same-old anti-drug message.
Funding problems that came up last summer were resolved. But service organizations looking for worthwhile programs to contribute to might consider the DARE classes. It's not improbable that the same sort of funding problems could come up again.
In addition to the drug education, DARE provides, a side benefit is the close relationship built between Brainerd Police Officer Brian Brewer and the sixth-graders. For many of the sixth-graders it's their first chance to talk to a police officer. They discover that law officers can laugh and kid around and provide good advice. So down the road, when a troubled youth speaks disparagingly about the police, the young person might have a different image in his or her head.
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