The subject of marijuana is attended to in the new D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum. The topic, however, is addressed only after it has been established to be an age appropriate topic for the individual concerned classroom.
The new D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum was developed using the most advanced prevention science principles based on over 30 years teaching and research. The curriculum enhances the development of safe and responsible citizens who lead successful, drug free lives. The lessons teach young children the skills they need to accomplish these goals, including how to assess the risks and consequences of their behaviors and make safe and responsible choices. The curriculum is designed so that students have opportunity to develop competency in using the skills learned. They also are taught about communicating, as well as giving and getting help. The lessons in the curriculum address the many challenges facing our elementary school-aged youth, including relationships, school work, and drugs.
National research shows that the most effective programs for young children encompass 10 lessons of 45 minutes each in order to reach the widest audience. A wealth of research data substantiates the two most common and dangerous drugs with which elementary aged students have knowledge or familiarity are alcohol and tobacco. These are the substances, across all segments of the population, with the highest use levels at this age group. The experience or knowledge of alcohol and tobacco creates an environment in which it is appropriate to talk with young students about these drugs.
The D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum provides information about drugs, focusing on alcohol and tobacco. Students learn to apply the information, within the constructs of a decision-making model, and to employ resistance skills in making safe and responsible decisions about drugs. While we do not focus individually on all possible drugs which can be abused, we believe the students can apply the learned decision-making model and developed resistance skills to other substances such as methamphetamine, prescriptions drugs, cocaine/crack, heroine, etc.
The D.A.R.E. kiR lessons are very interactive. The D.A.R.E. instructor functions as a facilitator guiding the student’s discussions. We are confident that the lessons are structured in a way to allow children the opportunity to ask about other substances.
For the general population of 5th/6th grade students, the topic of marijuana is not age appropriate. Most students in this age group have no basis of reference to the substance. Research has found that teaching children about drugs with which they have never heard of or have no real life understanding may stimulate their interest or curiosity about the substance.
In delivering the D.A.R.E. kiR lessons, the D.A.R.E. officer functions as a facilitator, guiding an interactive discussion. The D.A.R.E. kiR lessons are structured in a way to engage students and provide them with the opportunity to bring into the conversation questions they may have about other substances. It is proven to be more effective to discuss drugs when the students initiate the discussion, rather than lecturing to them. As part of the curriculum, a discussion guide has been provided to D.A.R.E. officers for incorporation into D.A.R.E. kiR elementary program when appropriate. The discussion guide is for use when the topic of marijuana is raised by the students. The design of the marijuana discussion guide reflects the design of the D.A.R.E. kiR lessons so that when employed it is done in a seamless fashion.