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Candidates offer insights on DARE program

Today, The DAILY LEADER begins a series of Question andAnswer sessions with candidates for Lincoln County sheriff. All sixcandidates participated in the survey.

The DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program hasbeen a source of disagreement, with supporters saying it is aneffective tool in educating young people about the dangers of drugsand detractors saying the program has had little to no effect. Whatis your feeling on the DARE program and its inclusion as part ofLincoln County Sheriff’s Department activities?

Robert Berry:

My opinion of the DARE program is that it is a good thing, butin order for any program to work to its full potential it has to bevigorously enforced and regularly monitored for superioreffectiveness. Our youth are our future and DARE is a great programto aid them in taking a stand against illegal drug use. But, assheriff, I would expand the DARE program to assist ourelementary-aged youth about the dangers of illegal drug use isintroduced to our children at an earlier age these days.

Lynn Boyte:

My election promise to the voters of Lincoln County in 1988, wasto utilize the training and experience I gained with theMississippi Highway Safety Patrol and with the plans and programs Iplaced into effect was together we could make a difference. Mycampaign promise was to put drug education in all Lincoln CountySchools. From my experience there is no doubt that prevention isthe best cure. The purpose of using DARE or many, the programeducates the children about drugs and teaches them the skills theyneed to recognize and be able to resist peer pressure that causethem to experiment with drugs or become involved in gangs or otherviolent activities. DARE opens a dialogue between students,teachers, law enforcement officers and parents. DARE permitsstudents to observe officers in a helping role, not just in anenforcement position. A trust is started that is important to ourchildren, that goes from young student to young parents. Thechildren gain trust with the DARE officer and share other factsabout child abuse and other crimes committed by adults onchildren.

Although DARE was founded in 1983, in Los Angeles, California,it reaches 26 million children a year and it is currently taught in75 percent of our nation’s school districts and 43 countries aroundthe world. After 24 years later it remains the most successful drugeducation program available nation wide.

Terry Harper:

The DARE Program is a starter tool for our young people. Itgives them a head start on the changes of drugs and the effects ithas on them. However, I think it needs to go further. We need it tocontinue into the grades 7-12. That is where the peer pressure isthe most adamant. They think they do not fit in with certainfriends or they are called degrading names. However, we also needto get the parents involved in the program as well. Nothing beatsthe teaching of our parents. That is where the DARE Program shouldstart.

B.W. Pitts:

I believe that DARE program is a tool, that with the rightpeople teaching it, can have a positive effect on our youth. Itaught the DARE program in Ellisville and a similar program here inLincoln County and if I made a difference with one child it wasdefinitely worth it.

Steve Rushing:

I believe that the DARE program is a great program to help inthe fight to keep young kids from using drugs and to help kidsestablish a relationship with law enforcement officers. If only onekid learns from this program then that is a step in the rightdirection in the fight on drugs in our county. The program was notin the schools when I was appointed and in conversations with theschool systems they expressed an interest to restore it. An officerwas sent for DARE training and the program is scheduled to begin inthe school systems in the beginning of the school year in the fallof 2007.

Gene “Bub” Simmons, Jr.:

I intend to continue the “DARE” program in our school systems,with a strong and pro-active approach to shut down the influx anddistribution of drugs into the country. This will no doubt diminishthe available substances not only to our young people, but also tothe older folks as well. I also intend to place a strong emphasison drug rehab for offenders and a closer eye on our treatmentcenters to ensure these offenders don’t leave in worse shape thanthey arrived.