Police bring parents into battle with drug abuse New 6-week program based on DARE effort

March 08, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

For the first time, county police officers are directing their anti-drug efforts at parents instead of their children. They have opened a six-week program to teach parents how to recognize signs of drug abuse and how to counsel their children to resist peer pressure.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Parent Program was to open last night at Corkran Middle School with discussions on communication skills and role-playing for parents, who would act out scenes with each other to help them become better parents.

The weekly two-hour sessions, patterned after those for elementary school students in the DARE program, will continue at 6: 30 p.m. Thursdays through April 11.

This is a local effort to expand a national program. It is considerably shorter than the 17-week program for children taught in elementary schools throughout the county, but parents will learn the same things their children do.

"We relate just about everything we do with the parents to what we teach the children," said Cpl. William Daywalt Jr., who will facilitate the sessions with Officer Robert Moore. "DARE is a triangle of school, family and police, and we've never had the family involved."

Police in Illinois started the DARE Parent Program in 1990, but it is just catching on here. This is the only session for this school year, but DARE officers hope to expand the program in the fall with more sessions in other schools, Corporal Daywalt said.

Last night, parents were to pair up and act out examples of attentive and inattentive listening. One would talk while the other stared at the ceiling and looked around the room, purposely missing the other's gaze. Then the parents would switch roles, looking each other in the eye and listening carefully to their partner's words.

In the next two sessions, the officers will talk about the problems that could lead children to use drugs, such as a family history of alcoholism, drug abuse or drug arrests.

Next is a session to teach parents how to help their youngsters resist peer pressure and media influences by explaining to them eight ways to say no.

In session five, parents will learn conflict-resolution skills and how to keep children out of violent situations. The last session will allow parents to question a panel of local speakers. Panel members will be announced later. The program is free and open to the public, but parents are asked to register. The program can take only 25 participants in the first six-week session.

Parents may attend all six sessions or only those of interest to them, but Corporal Daywalt said parents could help their children by attending the entire program.

"There's only a couple of things kids really want. They want love, they want care and they want affection," he said.

"This is a great way to show the kids you're willing to come out and spend time learning and improving parenting skills."

For more information or to register, call 222-6429.

Pub Date: 3/08/96

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