Should Drug Education Be Extended?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The D.A.R.E. program is considered one of the first lines of defense in keeping kids off drugs.

However,  some county leaders say it doesn't go far enough, and many Region Eight kids are not getting the message to "Just Say No" to drugs.

After a recent community forum on drugs, the question was raised as to why the D.A.R.E. program was not more present in the middle and high school level of Jonesboro's public schools.

The answer is funding, and now community leaders are looking for ways to expand D.A.R.E. to those grade levels that may need it the most.

"I think it's very important that we give them the basics in the fifth grade, and then we come in with that advanced stuff," said D.A.R.E. Officer Kevin Foust.

To add D.A.R.E. to middle and high school levels would take additional resources that currently aren't available to the city.

"To be able to start teaching middle school to all five districts, it would take another three officers, two to three DARE officers committed to that," said Foust.

That's where the line gets drawn.

D.A.R.E. officers are provided by the city and through sponsorships, and at no costs to the schools.

So, to add more takes more money, and that's why some community leaders like Bud Langford see the difference and are asking for everyone's help in making this possible.

"It's going to take a tremendous effort in educating to show these kids, this is what's going to happen," said Langford.

He says D.A.R.E. is a crucial element to the education of kids of any age because of one thing that it provides.

"I think it's great for them to talk to the kids and get the kids talking to them," said Langford.

Because closing the gap in education, just might decrease the chance of one child making the wrong decision in turning to drugs.

"Maybe when you and I were that age, we never would have imagined seeing something like that, but it's here, and it's here in Jonesboro," said Foust.

While Jonesboro schools have three full-time D.A.R.E. officers, Craighead County has one that serves those school districts outside the city limits including Westside, Brookland and B.I.C.

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