D.A.R.E. Gets a Makeover
The antidrug program takes on cyberbullying.
After years of declining participation and disappointing results from studies that showed the program wasn't effectively preventing drug use, D.A.R.E. has revamped its curriculum to tackle more current topics, including online safety. Police officers will still visit the classroom to talk about drugs and related violence, but now experts from partner organizations will be added to the mix. For example, in Minnesota, speakers talk to children about staying safe online, and local pharmacists will discuss prescription drug abuse. The recharged curriculum will include lesson plans for students at all levels.
The trick will be convincing schools to give D.A.R.E. a second chance. According to Mike Lien, director of the North Central Region of D.A.R.E. America, the program will only be successful if schools buy into it on a systemic level. While traditionally, students experience D.A.R.E. in fifth grade, "one application is not the medicine for [grades] K through 12," Lien said in the Pioneer Press.
Three Antibullying Initiatives to Watch
As your school or district works to get effective antibullying programs and policies in place, here are three initiatives that you should know about:
Writer Dan Savage began this YouTube project to tell gay teens through candid videos that while it may be tough now, it does get better. President Obama, Project Runway's Tim Gunn, and many others have contributed to the campaign. The videos are funny, touching, and, at times, heartbreaking-and may be the message that students need to hear.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' site Stop Bullying Now! offers tips for kids and adults on how to identify and prevent bullying. Additionally, in October, the Department of Education sent a 10-page letter to educators encouraging them to set antibullying policies and reminding schools they may in fact violate anti-discrimination laws by tolerating certain forms of bullying. It also includes guidelines for improving school culture.
New Jersey has increased its anti-bullying efforts after the death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, whose suicide is believed to be related to online bullying. The centerpiece of the state's campaign is a bipartisan bill known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which would standardize the way schools prevent, handle, and report bullying. As part of the measure, all teachers and administrators would be required to complete antibullying training. Resources useful for all educators can be found on the site.