I just got back from my 11 year old's D.A.R.E. graduation. We received a letter home the other day encouraging us to come see them graduate and to see the whole class of 2015 together for the first time (now that's a big draw, you gotta admit) and to please bring friends and family along to add to the excitement of the event. It actually said that.
My oldest son had D.A.R.E. five years ago. It was the first time my kids had been in school so I was constantly cocking my ears at the things he'd say when he came home. I especially loved the D.A.R.E. comments.
Things like: Sergeant Smith told us that there are many things right in our household that people can use to get high, like Robotussin.
Things like: Sergeant Smith said that people can easily make meth out of things right under the kitchen sink.
Things like: Today in D.A.R.E. Sergeant Smith showed us a whole bunch of different drug paraphernalia.
Things like: Mom, I think it's kinda stupid that Sergeant Smith tells us these crazy stories about people on drugs....it's kinda like glamorizing it, in a way.
My 11 year old today said that he thought it was stupid that they actually tell kids how certain drugs are made, like meth. He sorta looked at me like, "So...why would they tell a group of 11 year olds information like that?"
But we attended the event. Luke got a certificate of completion and his essay/letter was one of the ones they showed on the overhead projector. (That's an ancient phrase isn't it? Maybe it was a power point thing???) The kids could either write an essay or a letter to a high school student attending the prom, warning them of the dangers of drinking and Luke threw in the effects of smoking too, just for good measure. It may not save them from crashing, but it's fine advice anyway.
Have you heard that the D.A.R.E. program doesn't work? Our officials (who profusely thanked all the other officials in town over and over all night) have heard, but they choose to keep telling my kids how to make meth and get Robo-buzzes. There is no evidence of the program having the desired effect and in fact there's evidence that points to an increase in the certain behaviors it's intended to stop. Just google "Does the D.A.R.E. program work?" Perhaps our town's computers don't google, I don't know. I'm sure there's another councilman or patrolman or school official to thank for that too. But who wants to be the guy who says, "Er, a, I don't think we should go into the schools and teach the kids not to use drugs anymore." Who wants that on their resume? I cut the D.A.R.E. program in our town in 2008.
There is also evidence that these programs that go into schools and teach a whatever you do - don't do this! type lesson actually increase the behavior, rather than decrease it. Why? Because it's a grand, structured, passionate introduction to something the kids had never thought of before! You know, before they were chatting on their cell phones...going to cheerleading practice...doin' homework...and had not even considered sticking their fingers down their throats to lose lotsa weight until that nice, skinny lady came into school on Monday and told them "Whatever you do!!!! Don't stick your finger!!!!! Down your throat and throw up!!!!! I did and I almost died, I got so thin!!!! And somehow, some way they walked home thinking that day, I wonder if it really does make you lose weight if you throw up everything you eat.
I learned about it on tv. And it sounded ridiculous. And it sounded gross. And then I tried it.
You probably do have to be predisposed to some things, but there's always a trigger.
Anyway, as we drove home from the D.A.R.E. graduation I said to Luke who was looking at the certificate in his lap, "When you get home, put that in that folder I have of all your school stuff." He looked up at me and smiled, "I wanna frame it."