The primary mission of the D.A.R.E. program is to provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug and violence free lives, and to establish positive relationships between the students, teachers, law enforcement, and community. D.A.R.E.'s innovative and highly effective curriculum was developed as a cooperative effort between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The D.A.R.E. curriculum was designed to be taught by uniformed police officers, whose training and experience gives them the background needed to answer the sophisticated questions often asked by the young students about drugs and crime. The South Miami Police Department's D.A.R.E. officers have received 160 hours of special training to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to teach this course on drug resistance and violence avoidance techniques. The D.A.R.E. lessons focus on providing accurate information about tobacco, alcohol and drugs, teaching the students decision-making skills, showing them how to resist peer pressure and giving them ideas for alternatives to drug use and violence.

Since D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 it is now taught in nearly 75% of our nation's school districts, in all 50 states, by the U.S. Department of Defense School worldwide, and in 52 Countries around the world. This year 35 million school children around the world, 26 million of them in the United States, will benefit from receiving the D.A.R.E. program. Here in South Miami, 672 Students will receive the D.A.R.E. Elementary or Middle School programs.

The South Miami Police Department was the first agency in Miami-Dade County to graduate a D.A.R.E. class in June of 1998, from South Miami Elementary. We are now in our twelfth year of providing the D.A.R.E. program to the children of South Miami. Since beginning of the D.A.R.E. program in South Miami, we have graduated approximately 7000 children from the elementary and middle school programs. This year we are teaching the Elementary Program to five classes at South Miami Elementary, three classes at Ludlam Elementary, and two classes at David Fairchild Elementary for a total of 297 students.

The Program
The D.A.R.E. Elementary Program consist of 17 lessons, taught in the fifth grade. These lessons cover topics such as:
  • Assertive Response Styles
  • Considering Consequences
  • Decision Making
  • How the Media Influences Us
  • Gang Violence
  • Managing Stress
  • Reducing Violence
  • Self Esteem
  • Understanding the effect of drugs
  • Ways of saying "no"

The program also offers positive alternatives to using drugs and gives the students Positive Role Models in high school students who do not use drugs. Each lesson is 60 minutes in length. This allows us one hour to teach important information or skills to a class with as many as 35 students.

Middle School D.A.R.E. Program
The South Miami Middle School is one of just a few middle school in Miami-Dade County to provide the D.A.R.E. Middle School program to it students. The Middle school program in the seventh grade. This program consist of ten lessons, taught on consecutive school days.

The lessons cover issues such as Beliefs about Drugs, how drugs and violence effects them and their community, Resisting influences assertively, Forming friendships, How to resolve conflicts without violence, Avoiding gangs and How they can make their environment Drug-Free, Violence-Free and Safe. The D.A.R.E. officer must complete two years of teaching the elementary program and take an additional training course to be eligible to teach the Middle School program.

Proven Change
The change in the students drug knowledge and beliefs from the 5th to 7th grade is dramatic. However the use of highly trained, street-experienced police officers has proven to be a highly effective strategy in helping provide a credible educational format for the students in the areas of drug abuse, violence and gang prevention. It is this credibility that the officers provide that narrows the discrepancy between the relevancy of the information being imparted in the classroom and the reality of what is happening in the real world.