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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Students are back in class and so are D.A.R.E. officers.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education program kicked off today at Jonesboro Public Schools.

Jonesboro Police D.A.R.E. officers stopped by the Health and Wellness Environmental Studies Magnet school Tuesday morning.

Corporal Kevin Foust with the Jonesboro Police Department D.A.R.E. program said their visit was largely an introduction to students.

“We introduced ourselves to the students,” Foust said. “We talked to the children about what D.A.R.E. is and what we will be covering this semester.”

Corporal Foust said the curriculum the D.A.R.E. program teaches has changed over the years according to the need.

“D.A.R.E. is not all about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco,” Foust said. “We talk about stress and how to deal with it. Making safe and responsible decisions. We talk about bullying and how to communicate with one another and effectively do that. So, a lot of life skill lessons. It’s not just all about drugs and alcohol. But those are some of the things we do talk about.”

Foust said he hopes their program brings parents and children closer together.

“We hope to encourage our kids to go home and talk about these things,” Foust said. “Maybe that will open the door to communication between parents and their kids. It’s a team effort. School, police and parents.”

Foust said it takes everyone working together to make sure future generations succeed.

“It takes all of us to come together and teach the kids,” Foust said. “We want them to know why it’s okay to say no and give them some skills and things they can do to resist the peer pressure and those different things. So, it’s a lot of education for kids and parents.”

Foust said they target fifth-grade student in their program because that’s where they seem to first start seeing issues.

“Fifth grade is a good age,” Foust said. “It’s an age where they’re starting to see things and be faced with things I wasn’t faced with at that particular age. So, this is a good age to give them some of the knowledge they need. And it’s their choice to make the choices they make. But we hopefully give them the right skills to make the good choices and make the better choices.”

Foust said they’ve seen proof the program is working from the very students they’ve taught.

“We’ve had a lot of kids come up to us when they’re older,” Foust said. “High school and college age kids have come up and said, ‘Hey, you were my D.A.R.E. officer. I remember some of the things we talked about in your class.’ So, that means a lot when that happens. That shows us we made an impact. We had influence. And that’s what we want to do, is give them the skills they need to make the right choices.”

Students received their D.A.R.E. workbooks and t-shirts.

They spoke to a little over 100 students at the Health and Wellness Environmental Studies Magnet School.

Later that afternoon they also spoke to students at the International Studies Magnet School.

Foust said they’ll teach around 650 students this semester about the D.A.R.E. program.

Next semester they’ll be starting with Valley View and Nettleton.

For more information about the Jonesboro Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program, click here.

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