RCMP looking for alternative
SUMMERSIDE – An RCMP operated program on drug abuse education in Island schools will continue.
© Submitted photo
Sgt. Andrew Blackadar
Sgt. Andrew Blackadar, media relations officer for L Division RCMP said the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program is being looked at to see if an alternative can be developed for Island schools.
“We’re re-evaluating the DARE program,” he said. “We will be, at some point, replacing it with some other drug awareness program.” he said.
Blackadar said DARE is it’s not an RCMP program and actually comes from the United States.
“One of the requirements of that program is that it be delivered by a front-line uniformed police officer,” he said. “Each class requires ten hours of in-class study. The challenge we have around that is we are tying up a uniformed police officer to get into the school for a commitment of ten hours for every class that he or she teaches. That takes a lot of time away from our police officers on the street.”
Blackadar said the other challenge is weather particularly snow days.
“If we decide to go into schools for the first ten weeks of the year and four of those weeks happen to hit snow days, we’re then cutting into the curriculum of the school,” he said.
Blackadar said the RCMP has been providing the DARE program for that last 15 years and it is time that it changed.
“We want to make sure, and that’s where the re-evaluation of the program is coming in, we see some long-term change,” he said. “We‘re seeing a lot more prescription pill abuse here compare to where we were back 15 years ago. The change in mindset of marijuana use, that’s another change. We want re-evaluate and get a program that is current with the times bit also something we can say is RCMP owned. We could tailor it if one school or one area is having an issue with prescription pills, we want to be able to go in and hit that school hard with prescription pill information.”
Another change in the program would be the use of people other than uniformed officers. “We’ve done this with other things, we may bring in a drug addict,” he said. “That’s separate from the DARE program. Or, we may bring in anybody whose recovering, we’ve brought in doctors to get the medical side.”
Blackadar said more needs to be done at the high school level.
“We can target them for one or two days which would only take us two hours to do,” he said. “We’re really doing DARE from grade 5 to grade 9 right now and we don’t have a lot of programming for high school kids who are really still very much at risk.”
Parental involvement is another aspect to a drug awareness program that needs to be addressed, he said.
“The other thing we want to do is we realize that one component that we’re missing in all of this is getting the parents involved,” Blackadar said.
“You have parents of teenagers, be it in junior high school or high school, and they may not know the signs they should be looking for. They don’t know who to turn to. They may have certain questions they would just like answered. We can bring in certain experts from certain fields so we can have a panel discussion instead of having one police officer give the program. We might have a panel of four or five experts saying here’s what you do.”
He said dealing with drug issues doesn’t always end up in a courtroom.
“A parent might say I found marijuana in my kid’s bedroom yesterday and I just left it there because I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “I thought I’d get my kid in trouble or I though I’d get me in trouble if I called the police. We can actually say take the steps give us a call, have that chat with your kid. Your kid doesn’t even have to know that the police were even involved at this point. That’s step one. Or, we have programs that area available to help your child and help you. That’s step two. We don’t have to go to the court process right away.”
“We will continue to off DARE, in fact we’ve hit 600 or 700 kids already this year in relation to DARE,” he said. “And we’re going to continue doing that. If we don’t have a replacement program by September for DARE, then we’re going to continue with DARE again next year.”