D.A.R.E. program teaches kids to resist drugs & peer pressure
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program plays a vital role in teaching Morgan County students to stay away from drugs and alcohol, resist peer pressure and violence and make healthy decisions.
Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputies have taught the D.A.R.E. curriculum in schools countywide for many years.
Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy Cliff Cobern teaches D.A.R.E. to Pleasant View Elementary fifth graders every year and instructs the Greenwood Elementary fourth and fifth graders every other year.
Paw Paw Police Chief Tim Harthun teaches the D.A.R.E. program in Paw Paw Schools.
In the nine-session elementary school D.A.R.E. program, students learn the facts about how using tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and prescription medications affects their body, health and achieving personal goals.
They do role plays and learn to solve real-life situations like being offered alcohol or cigarettes or being pressured by friends to drink beer or go to a friend’s house when their parents aren’t home.
Students practice the D.A.R.E. decision-making model, which is Define the problem, Assess the choices, Respond to the facts and make a choice and Evaluate your decision, Cobern said.
Kids learn refusal skills and ways to respond to statements like “you’re not a chicken, are you?” if they don’t want to do something.
They also learn strategies to avoid risky situations like staying away from places where drugs are used, hanging out with non-users and walking away if someone offers them marijuana.
D.A.R.E. lessons discuss how alcohol slows the body and brain, how it affects teens more severely since their bodies are still growing, that mixing alcohol with medicine is dangerous and that too much alcohol can lead to coma and death. Kids also learn how advertising influences their decisions about alcohol and tobacco.
During a recent visit to Pleasant View Elementary, Cobern was teaching the unit on tobacco to fifth grade teacher Jackie Futrell’s students.
Kids learned that smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. It also causes heart disease and is the leading cause of many cancers.
Cobern told students there are 200 known poisons in cigarette smoke, that 400,000 people die each year from tobacco-related causes and that around 3,000 non-smokers die of lung cancer every year from breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke.
Smoking causes shortness of breath. Long-time smokers have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and have to be on oxygen all the time, Cobern said.
Cobern also talked with kids about how cigarettes contain the addictive substance nicotine and that it’s illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 years of age.
At the lesson’s end, students shared their Surgeon General’s warning for tobacco products that they wrote.
The D.A.R.E. program teaches basic everyday life skills and how to cope with stress and peer pressure, Cobern noted. Kids also learn to avoid drugs, alcohol and tobacco. D.A.R.E. instructors talk with kids on their level and use words they understand.
At the end of the program, students write an essay on what they’ve learned and why it’s important. They receive a certificate and a D.A.R.E. t-shirt and pledge to stay drug-free and violence-free.
Deputy Cobern has been teaching the D.A.R.E. program in Morgan County Schools since 2007 and is a certified D.A.R.E. instructor.
Cobern loves the program and that it gives him a chance to help kids and interact with them. He said he has D.A.R.E. students who are in 10th grade now. It makes it easier when he has to go to the high school at times.
“They remember you when they grow up,” he said.
Cobern said he is very fortunate that Paw Paw Police Chief Tim Harthun is also a certified D.A.R.E. instructor and does the program at Paw Paw Schools.
Town of Bath Police Chief Craig Pearrell is doing the “Too Good for Drugs” program at Warm Springs Intermediate School.
“It’s a team effort. We all play a part in this. It helps with the work load,” Cobern said.
Cobern still has patrol and his Crimes Against Children work in addition to his D.A.R.E. instructor duties. He enjoys working with kids.
“It gives me great pleasure to meet and work with all the kids who will be our future,” Cobern said.
Deputy Cobern has also served as the law enforcement representative on the Pleasant View Elementary local school improvement council (LSIC) since the 2007-2008 school year.
He was elected chairperson of their LSIC organization in the 2009-2010 and 2011-2012 school years, said Pleasant View Principal Nicole Fox.