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DARE may shift to fifth grade

March 19, 2001

DARE may shift to fifth grade



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County board administrators are proposing moving an anti-drug use DARE program from sixth to fifth grade to reach students at a younger age.

The program is intended to influence students to refrain from using drugs and alcohol.

The shift to an earlier grade is in response to the 1998 Maryland Adolescent Survey that found the use of crack, heroin, PCP, steroids, amphetamines, tranquilizers, methamphetamines and narcotics including morphine increased among Washington County sixth-graders.

The 1998 results were released in June and are in comparison to the 1996 survey.

"We need to get the information to the children earlier," said Eugene Martin, the board's supervisor of physical education and health.

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Lincolnshire, Bester and Fountaindale elementary schools are piloting the fifth-grade DARE program this year. DARE officers at each of the schools will meet with elementary principals in May or June to talk about the outcome of the program as well as the specifics of DARE next year.

If DARE were to move to fifth grade countywide, the Officer Phil program would be moved to third and fourth grades, and other drug and alcohol lessons would be added for sixth grade. Officer Phil currently reaches fourth- and fifth-graders.

Officer Phil is an assembly program in which local police agencies teach kids to avoid drugs and alcohol by teaching self-respect and providing information about drugs.

Martin thinks DARE would be effective if it were spread among elementary, middle and high school levels.

"When DARE has been successful across the country, it's been successful because it's been in place at all the levels," Martin said. "That's what we're working toward."

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