Frequently Asked Questions

Get all of your frequently asked questions about the Massachusetts D.A.R.E. and keepin’ it REAL Program answered.
How active is the D.A.R.E. program in Massachusetts?

We currently have approximately 85 certified D.A.R.E. officers serving about 50 communities across the Commonwealth. Over the past five years, we have certified approximately 10-15 new officers annually.

Due to factors such as the opioid crisis, challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, police reform efforts, dedicated school resource officer programs, and the ongoing effort to build community trust, we are experiencing a growing interest in the program. We believe this interest also stems from a new breed of officers and law enforcement leaders who are committed to equip children with the tools they need to stay drug-free and to ensure that children develop positive and meaningful relationships with the police.

What age group is the D.A.R.E. program for?

D.A.R.E. offers a curriculum suitable for K-12 students; However, our focus is on 5th to 7th graders. D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL (kiR) elementary curriculum is designed for 5th or 6th grade students and our middle school program is designed for 6th or 7th grader students. Both of these curriculums includes10-12 lessons lasting 45 minutes each.

The elementary program teaches children how to make sound decisions using the “D.A.R.E. decision-making model”. The main objective is to prevent alcohol and tobacco use, with the understanding that avoiding these substances can lead to avoiding other less common substances. Officers may also include lessons on marijuana, prescription/over-the-counter drugs (RX/OTC), vaping, mental health, and social media safety.

We recommend that after completing the elementary program, officers continue the program, with the kiR middle school curriculum in the 6th or 7th grade. This curriculum, which can also be introduced independently of the elementary program, reinforces and builds upon the earlier lessons. The middle school program also includes 10-12 sessions lasting 45 minutes each and covers similar enhancement topics as the elementary program.

These curriculums can be taught remotely through D.A.R.E.’s online program or outside regular school hours during after-school programs or summer camps.

How do I start a program in my community?

To start a D.A.R.E. program, support and collaboration between Massachusetts D.A.R.E. (MA D.A.R.E.), law enforcement, and local school districts is vital. Once the requisite supports are in place, an officer should be selected to attend training and an application for training should be submitted MA D.A.R.E.. The selected officer will be assigned a training/certification program where they will be equipped with the tools needed to start the program in your community. MA DAR.E. will supply the necessary training, curriculum, and classroom materials to any community within Massachusetts at minimal or no cost.

Who can deliver the D.A.R.E. Curriculum?
D.A.R.E. is a program designed to be delivered by a uniformed police officer; However, MA D.A.R.E. tends to maintain a fairly broad definition of “officer” that includes state, municipal, and county law enforcement or law enforcement support staff. This definition encompasses not only the typical police officer but also uniformed personnel such as National Guardsmen, reserve/auxiliary police officers, police dispatchers, co-response clinicians, etc.. We’re also willing to support all types of schools — public, charter, private — as well as independent after-school programs or camps.

A representative of MA D.A.R.E. will be available and willing to discuss the program and curriculum in more depth with your community stakeholders as needed or requested.

Do D.A.R.E. Officers receive specific training to teach the program?

Yes, all D.A.R.E. officers undergo an intensive 80-hour training program. This covers the curriculum, learning modalities, classroom management, lesson planning and delivery, and facilitation skills.

Our Northeast Regional Training Team is organized by the New Hampshire Department of Public Safety and is held at the New Hampshire National Guard Academy, in Pembroke, NH, a state-of-the-art facility. Our training team includes seasoned D.A.R.E. officers who work closely with trainees to provide individual feedback. We also have an experienced elementary school teacher/school administrator and a licensed youth mental health counselor on our team.

During the training, D.A.R.E. officers typically live on-site and spend considerable time outside the classroom studying and preparing presentations. Before graduation, all D.A.R.E. officers visit an elementary school classroom to teach a lesson and are evaluated by their mentor to ensure they meet the high standards set by the training team.

We offer these trainings annually in mid-November. If an officer can’t attend this scheduled session, there are several other training courses available throughout the country as alternatives; MA D.A.R.E. will provide a stipend for officers to attend an out of region training if funding permits.

Is the D.A.R.E. program evidence based and proven effective?

Yes, the modern D.A.R.E. curricula is an evidence based curriculum and has been proven effective. We’ve collaborated with reputable educational institutions to create a proven program: The D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL (kiR) curriculum was developed by reputable institutions of higher education and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The curricula have been verified as effective through thorough scientific research evaluations. Numerous studies have shown that the kiR elementary and middle school curricula effectively reduce issues such as drug use and bullying by enhancing decision-making skills and other abilities. The initial findings of an ongoing study of the kiR program has shown positive outcomes.

Why do some people believe D.A.R.E. isn't effective?

The original D.A.R.E. curriculum was created over 30 years ago by Los Angeles police officers in response to America’s growing drug problem and deteriorating police-community relations. Since this initial curriculum wasn’t based on research, it faced criticism through a widely publicized study. In response, D.A.R.E. retired the original curriculum and developed the current evidence based kiR curriculum.

Many people were not aware of this change and continued to criticize the program based on its original curriculum. The current D.A.R.E. curriculum isn’t the same one many remember; The kiR curriculum is evidence based and proven effective.

It’s also important to note that D.A.R.E.’s drug abuse prevention programs are part of a larger solution. D.A.R.E. aims to facilitate collaboration among community stakeholders (police, schools, parents, businesses) in an effort to start discussions about drug abuse among our youth. To be effective, it is important that the larger community continue to remain involved in a child’s life and reinforce the lessons learned in D.A.R.E. In other words, D.A.R.E. is a small piece in a much larger puzzle; D.A.R.E. is an effective cornerstone piece to that puzzle. It is unrealistic to rely on programs like D.A.R.E. alone to solve as complex social problem.

While the program may not work for every child, if it impacts the life of just one child, then it’s a success.

How is Massachusetts D.A.R.E. funded?
Through an appeal for donations, Massachusetts D.A.R.E. is supported by an amazing group of local corporate and individual donors who believe in our mission. Their commitment to help kids stay drug-free is what keeps the D.A.R.E. program in the Commonwealth. We do not seek or receive funding from the Commonwealth or other grants, nor we do not place any fundraising burdens on any local law enforcement agencies or individual D.A.R.E. officers. We are an approved 501c(3) non-profit organization rather than a government agency.