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D.A.R.E – Drug Abuse Resistance Education

The D.A.R.E. program is taught in all 50 states, and 49 other countries. All curriculum is science-based, age appropriate, and written by a national panel of curriculum and prevention experts. The D.A.R.E. curriculum meets the core educational standards of health, language arts, and math.

D.A.R.E. has new elementary and middle school curriculums, keepin’ it REAL (kiR). The D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL middle school curriculum which is an evidence based program listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

D.A.R.E. is a twelve-week program taught to 4th and 5th grade students at each of our area elementary schools throughout the school year. During the program, students are taught lessons in several subject areas, including: responsible decision making, information on tobacco and alcohol, defining risk and understanding consequences, peer pressure, stress, communication and listening skills, bullying, helping others and the importance of good citizenship, identifying people in their lives who they can go to for help, and prescription drug safety.

D.A.R.E also includes a short lesson on the effects of marijuana if the topic is brought up by students. Research has found that teaching children about drugs with which they have no orientation or real life awareness may negatively stimulate their interest or curiosity. For the general population of 4th and 5th grade students, the topic of marijuana and other drugs is age inappropriate.

As you can see, D.A.R.E. is much more than its title implies. The new keepin’ it REAL program is a prevention strategy designed to give students an understanding of life’s challenges and some tools that they can use to make positive decisions in their lives.

The Douglas County D.A.R.E. program began in 1989. Since that time, approximately 6,000 students have been taught the curriculum. D.A.R.E. is a cooperative effort between the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the following schools: West Central Area-South (Kensington), Evansville, Brandon, Garfield, Carlos, Miltona, Osakis, and St. Agnes (Osakis). The program is currently being taught by Deputy Nicole Swanson.

Past D.A.R.E. officers include:

Gabe Pipo

Brad Lake

Jackie Notch

Rick Schley

Ron Boyden

Adam Kavanagh

Dustin Alexander



Friendships: the importance of friends when faced with questions regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. However, it has been determined that parents are the number one factor in determining whether or not a student will use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Peer Pressure: it’s effects, both positive and negative.

Warning Labels: what they are and why they are used.

Advertising: how it is used to attract a specific age group or gender.

Confidence and Self-Esteem: the advantage of having it and using it.


It has been determined that Role Models, high school age students, are very effective in getting the D.A.R.E. message across to grade school students. One of the last lessons of the program is bringing these Role Models into the grade school classroom to speak with the students about the realities of what they will face in the near future, as it relates to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The Role Models impress upon the grade school students that they will be asked to try those drugs, and by preparing for those types of questions now, they will know how to respond. The Role Models also relay that by having healthy, positive relationships with family and friends, and by being involved in school and community activities, the ability to say “no” is much easier.


It is a one to two page paper written by each student about what they have learned in D.A.R.E. class and the effect that it has had on their life. They are also asked to make a pledge to remain drug and violence free. The students then read their essay to their classmates, and one essay from each class is read at the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony.


D.A.R.E. graduations are held during the last two weeks of March. Each class has its’ own ceremony in which graduation certificates are conferred on each student, as well as other rewards. The students, their parents, and others are then treated to cake and juice. The graduation ceremonies are well attended by Sheriff’s Office staff, school staff and board members, county commissioner’s and city council members. The general public is welcomed to attend.

Each D.A.R.E. student receives a workbook, pencil, D.A.R.E. stickers, and a D.A.R.E. T-shirt.

Is D.A.R.E. effective?

National studies show that among D.A.R.E. graduates, 93% have never tried drugs, 70% have never tried alcohol and 75% have never tried smoking. What would happen if we didn’t teach it? Be a good role model. Talk to your kids about the hazards of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and most importantly, listen to them. You are an important part of their lives!

DARE vehicle in parade
Sheriff truck with DARE banner