Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) is coming back to Greene County Public Schools this fall.
Greene County hasn’t had a DARE program since 2004, said Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith.
Last month, Deputy David Payne graduated from the DARE program, certified to teach kindergarten through high school.
The courses are going to be part of the fifth-grade curriculum.
“Yes, [DARE] does deal with drugs, but it’s more about making the right choices, better choices,” said Smith, who taught DARE himself years ago. “It’s trying to get them in the right mindset.”
DARE, a police officer-led series of classroom lessons, was founded in 1983 and has been taught in the United States and more than 50 countries, according to the website.
Payne said training included writing classroom lessons and working with the other officers from across the state was invaluable.
“I know it’s an awesome responsibility to bring [DARE] back to Greene,” said Payne, who has been a deputy in Greene for two years and for 16 years in Culpeper prior. “The sheriff asking if I’d be willing to do it, I mean, that’s an honor that not a lot of people get.”
Smith said teaching the youths about consequences is the main goal—good and bad.
“I enjoyed teaching DARE very much,” Smith said. “You get to interact with the kids as you’re trying to lead them on the right path.”
“It’s about showing kids the decision-making process and that every choice has a consequence,” he said. “I’ve been teaching that a long time but it really made sense after going through the DARE course myself.”
DARE covers more than just resisting drugs and decision-making, Payne said. It also covers bullying, peer pressure, stealing, helping someone who’s being bullied, gangs, helping kids not be afraid of the police and stress.
“There’s curriculum that shows what stress looks like, how you might feel when you’re stressed and how to cope,” Payne said.
Smith said the 10-week course needs to cover everything that the kids could face.
“We’re getting into the kids’ world,” he said.
Smith said the school system and his office are forming a partnership for prevention and to help the kids. “They’ve worked it into the curriculum for us,” he said.
Greene County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrea Whitmarsh was unavailable for comment by press time.
“We’d like to thank the schools for making it possible,” said Major Charles Swingler.
Requests from the community were made to bring the program back, as well.
“We feel like it’s a good use of our resources and of our time,” Smith said. “It’s a way for us to reach them at a young age before they’re influenced by a lot of other stuff.”