New DARE Program Taught In Harrison County Schools

Harrison County deputies Shelly Ladner and Windy Swetman are teaching the new, more interactive DARE program to Pass Christian Middle School seventh graders.

Swetman said the biggest change between this lesson plan, and the old DARE program is how the new curriculum involves the students.

"The way we're trying to do it is more facilitation, intervention with the kids," Swetman said. "Let the kids get that feedback versus the old fashioned way of lecturing to the kids."

The University of Akron program creates situations where kids face some tough decisions. For instance, one group of students had to act out a scene where a star football player wanted a friend to hide his marijuana.

The seventh grader acting out the football player role said, "I ain't got nobody else's locker to put it in. You're one of my good friends. You can hold it for me." The response from his friend was, "Put it in your locker." The scene ended with the football player saying, "I can't. I would get caught with it like that."

Role playing is a major component of the new DARE curriculum. It teaches students the right way to handle sticky situations.

"We believe it's working," Swetman said. "We see a better response in the kids. Hopefully there is a better retention as we review the lessons, the kids seem to give us more feedback on what they've learned in the previous lessons, which lets us know that they're getting the message."

The 10-week DARE program is supposed to teach kids how to take charge of their lives. The role playing puts them in real life situations.

Tarah Cotton is in the DARE class. The seventh grader said, "We get to act out parts. And we don't have to just sit down. We get to interact. And that way we can learn better."

Harrison County is one of just 22 departments in the country experimenting with this new version of DARE.

DARE will track the seventh grade students right through their last year of high school. That way, deputies will know if the role playing lessons taught through the program will keep the kids away from future trouble.