When it comes to educating children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and violence, parents can’t start young enough.
That’s the message from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which administers the state’s D.A.R.E. program for elementary and middle school students.
Launched in 1983, the nationwide program aims to teach students to avoid peer pressure that could lead to dangerous decisions.
The program is in 15 jurisdictions in Maryland, said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Half of those programs are in elementary schools, and half are in middle schools.
“You want to get them as early as you can to give them good decision-making skills,” Shields said.
Earlier this week, Howard County school officials confirmed that two elementary school students face disciplinary action for drinking on the school bus.
And parents of students at Holabird Academy near Dundalk said this week that some students had found used hypodermic needles around the school, and called on school officials to raise awareness of the safety and health issue. Some parents said young students were being stabbed with the needles.
While Shields could not speak specifically about the concerns at Holabird Academy or the incident at Howard County, he said both illustrate why it’s important to reach out to students when they are young. The D.A.R.E. program works with students as young as first grade.
“That’s always been a focus,” he said.