Policy & Procedure for Inclusion of the Topic of Marijuana in the D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL Elementary Curriculum
The D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL (kiR) elementary curriculum is a universal program, a prevention strategy designed for delivery to all students, without regard to individual risk factors. For the general population of 5th/6th grade students, the topic of marijuana is not age appropriate. Most students in this age group have no basis of reference to the substance. Research has found that teaching children about drugs with which they have no orientation or real life awareness may negatively stimulate their interest or curiosity about the substance. The topic of marijuana can be addressed, using the D.A.R.E kiR Elementary Curriculum Marijuana Discussion Guide. The guide can be used when it is determined that for a specific classroom marijuana is an age appropriate topic.
If it is established for a specific classroom that a discussion regarding marijuana is age appropriate, the D.A.R.E. kiR Elementary Curriculum Marijuana Discussion Guide can be used to direct the conversation. The benchmark for establishing age appropriateness is that the subject is deemed appropriate by the concerned school administrator / classroom educator, or conversation regarding marijuana is initiated by the students.
The D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum was developed using the most advanced prevention science principles based on over three decades of teaching and research. The curriculum enhances the development of safe and responsible citizens who lead successful, drug free lives. The lessons teach young children the skills they need to accomplish these goals, including how to assess the risks and consequences of their behaviors and make safe and responsible choices. The curriculum is designed so that students have opportunity to develop competency in using the skills learned. They also are taught about communicating, as well as giving and getting help. The lessons in the curriculum address the many challenges facing our elementary school-aged youth, including relationships, school work, and drugs.
A wealth of research data substantiates the two most common and dangerous drugs with which elementary aged students have knowledge or familiarities are alcohol and tobacco. Also, these are the substances, across all segments of the population, with the highest use levels within this age group. The experience or knowledge of alcohol and tobacco creates an environment in which it is appropriate to talk with young students about these drugs. The D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum provides information about drugs, focusing on alcohol and tobacco. Students learn to apply the information, within the constructs of a decision-making model, and to employ resistance skills in making safe and responsible decisions about drugs. While we do not focus individually on all drugs, we believe the students can apply the learned decision-making model and developed resistance skills to other substances such methamphetamine, prescriptions drugs, cocaine/crack, heroin, etc.
In delivering the D.A.R.E. kiR lessons, the D.A.R.E. officer functions as a facilitator, presenting information and guiding an interactive discussion. The D.A.R.E. kiR lessons are structured in a way to engage students and provide them with the opportunity to bring into the conversation questions they may have about the topics being discussed or other relevant matters, such as marijuana.
If students introduce the subject of marijuana, not only does this satisfy the concern of age appropriateness, but it also serves as an indication that the ensuing discussion will have particular meaning to the students. It is proven to be more effective to discuss drugs, risks and consequences, decision-making, and resistance strategies when the students show an interest by initiating the discussion. As part of the D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum, a discussion guide has been provided to D.A.R.E. officers for incorporation into lessons when appropriate. The marijuana discussion guide has been constructed so that it reflects the design of the D.A.R.E. kiR elementary lessons, when employed it integrates in a seamless fashion.
D.A.R.E KiR Elementary Curriculum
Marijuana Discussion Guide
This guide is to be used only when the D.A.R.E. Officer is asked questions about marijuana. Remember you have a very short time to respond or you will not be able to complete this lesson. If the students raise a question remember to keep the information very basic and at an age appropriate level.
Remember that marijuana is a drug.
The D.A.R.E. definition that we use for the word drug is, “any substance other than food that affects the way your mind and body works.”
Some of the ways that your mind and body might be affected by marijuana are:
- It affects my mind.
- Causes you to forget.
- Makes it hard to concentrate and learn.
- Makes you irritable and anxious.
- Makes it hard to sleep.
- Effects your school work.
- It affects my body.
- Causes colds and coughs.
- Causes infections.
- Slows coordination and reflexes making it hard to ride a bike, skateboard, or do other activities.
- Is addictive.
- It is always illegal for minors to possess or use.
(Marijuana is against federal law. You need to consider your state laws in answering this question.) Try to avoid discussion regarding medical marijuana as it is not age appropriate and too many complex issues are involved.
Summarize by telling that we know that marijuana affects our mind and body and is illegal. Remind them that we want to make safe and responsible decisions.