Re-emphasizing the truth in DARE Six years after its start, police anti-drug program guides new crop of pupils

March 27, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Sometimes, Cpl. William E. Daywalt Jr. of the county police force wonders whether he is getting through to fifth-graders at Arthur Slade Regional Catholic School in his efforts to teach them to say "no" to drugs and violence.

"Then something will happen," he says. "We'll get an essay about how the program has influenced someone in a positive way." And he'll feel better about his Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) efforts at the school on Dorsey Road.

Corporal Daywalt has been an instructor in the DARE program at Arthur Slade since it began six years ago. He meets with the fifth-graders for about 40 minutes on Tuesdays.

Yesterday, Corporal Daywalt called one girl to the front of the class and asked her to recite eight ways to say "no" when someone offers drugs.

Among the tactics the girl told him is to say "no thanks" or walk away. For her efforts, Corporal Daywalt gave her a DARE bookmark and pencil.

"Today the reward is getting something from me. But hopefully, one day that reward will be being able to say 'no' in a successful way, in an assertive way," he told the children.

At one point, he had all the children come to the front of the room and arrange themselves in lines according to likes and dislikes. Pizza or cheeseburgers? Football or basketball? No preference?

The children chose one of three lines as Corporal Daywalt called out the choices, depending on their preferences.

"I gave this activity even though it seems very minor because it has to do with disagreements," Corporal Daywalt explained. "It's OK to have disagreements. But there is a proper way to have a disagreement. When you deal with a disagreement in an improper way, violence occurs."

He taped a poster on the blackboard that depicted two boys standing toe-to-toe, ready to fight. "Violence is a disruptive action directed against people and nonliving things," read the legend on the poster.

The easiest way to deal with violence is to return it, Corporal Daywalt said. But a better way is to cool down, think and talk things out.

DARE programs last 17 weeks. Corporal Daywalt has been with this group since January. In May, he will hold a graduation ceremony for the members.

He is trying to prepare the children for middle and high school, where the pressure to use drugs or alcohol and get in fights will increase enormously.

"I think I'm learning how I can work things out differently than fighting," said Valerie Fuecker, one of the students. "I'm learning to talk about it, not use violence."

She said she also is learning to stay away from drugs.

"If I don't use drugs, I'll feel like I have high self-esteem and I wouldn't have let myself down," she said.

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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