DARE program at Beaty covering wider spectrum of decision-making

BY ROB ANDERSEN

randersen@timesobserver.com

Last Monday, 170 sixth-grade students at Beaty-Warren Middle School graduated from the DARE program.

While the original Drug Abuse Resistance Education focused on substance abuse, the current incarnation has a much wider scope.

“It is teaching them about how to make responsible decisions, not just involving drugs and alcohol,” said Sgt. Brandon Deppen of the City of Warren Police Department.

He explained it as Defining a problem, Assessing options, both positive and negative; Responding by choosing the best options and Evaluate: “Did I make the right decisions?”

“In this program, it is not focused exclusively on drugs and alcohol,” he said.

There are two ten-week programs for the sixth graders, with half of the students participating in the fall, and the other half in the spring.

Deppen spends one entire day each week teaching four classes with a different subject each week.

“The first week is an introduction to the program; the second is drug information, making responsible decisions about tobacco and alcohol. The third week, risk and consequences; the fourth, peer pressure and the fifth is about dealing with stressful situations,” he said.

“In the sixth week it’s the basics of communication and the seventh is non-verbal communications, again, listening. It’s one of the most difficult to learn. The eighth week deals with bullying; the ninth, helping others to be good citizens.”

He said he wraps it up in the tenth week with help networks. “Think about who you will rely on. This gives them the tools needed to make a decision,” he said.

At the end of each term, the students write essays about how they may have used the decision module to make a decision. “Their responses are all positive,” he said.

The program was modified two years ago by a Penn State professor, who did surveys as to the effectiveness, and took ideas from the first two DARE programs to make it relevant to today.

“The program is now, ‘Keeping it real’,” he said.

Deppen said the funding for DARE was provided by the Warren County Task Force last fall, using money seized in drug busts.

Each of the graduates received a t-shirt, a medallion and a certificate. One essay writer from each class was selected as a winner, and each received a special pin and a $10 gift certificate to Tim Hortons.