Elementary schools in New Hanover County roll out new D.A.R.E program

Elementary schools in New Hanover County roll out new D.A.R.E program
Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 6:17 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A portion of $50 billion in settlement money will be going toward drug education for elementary school students.

A new version of the well-known D.A.R.E program will look different than what people have seen in the past. It’s a new program for a new generation.

That’s why New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington approved $60,000 to launch the program in county schools.

Nearly 70 school resource officers went through D.A.R.E. training in August. This fall semester, 5th-grade students in all public schools will partake in the program. The county said the goal is to expand to middle and high schools in the future.

The D.A.R.E programs that many people took growing up came under scrutiny from experts for relying on “scare tactics” or catchphrases. However, county leaders said they looked closely at the curriculum and believe it can make a real impact.

“The idea is to be a very comprehensive approach to making sure that our students and our young people are aware of the signs and the risk associated with substance use, that they also know where to get help whenever they need help. And then also there’s a stigma attached to substance use disorders, also with the root cause of substance use disorders, which is of course mental illness and mental health disorders. So really trying to address the stigma of that as well,” said New Hanover County Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Rigby

The $60,000 was a one-time budget item to cover training and materials, any further spending on the D.A.R.E program will depend on its performance.

“This is not your grandpa’s DARE program. Again, it’s been retooled, I think that there was a certain amount of branding that we, our law enforcement, and frankly, our parents and teachers we’re all familiar with. So it has been really retooled to reflect 2023 and the issues that we’re dealing with today,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple.