Police departments and educators across the state are working together to bring a new drug prevention program to schools.
The Law Enforcement Against Drugs program, or LEAD, has been growing in popularity with more than 100 instructors now in New Hampshire.
Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Sandwich Police Chief Doug Wyman about why he's been working with the local schools in his community to replace the well-known DARE program with LEAD.
(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)
So can you tell us, the Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education program, or DARE, this has been around now for well, dating back to the 80s. Can you explain the difference between DARE and the LEAD program?
Sure, so LEAD curriculum is evidence based. So it has been vetted. It has been tested proven effective. One of the things that is different with it is that where DARE is officer taught, LEAD can be either teacher taught, officer taught or a combination of the two. Another big difference is that LEAD is a K-12 curriculum as opposed to a 5-6 [grade] curriculum.
And that's something that is a big change, I think, isn't it?
Yes, yes. That is huge.
Have instructors here in the Granite State worked on tailoring this new program to specifically address problems here in New Hampshire like the opioid epidemic?
So we do talk about heroin. We do talk about opioids. We do talk about that stuff in the classroom. What we can't do is we can't freelance it. We have to stay with the curriculum that is taught. So we can't do our own PowerPoint just on New Hampshire and do a class on that. If a question from a student comes up, because obviously there's that question and answer and interaction period, obviously we can address that way.
When you're in the classroom, have you heard from students that bring this up?
Yes, yes. Either they've talked about drug use that they've witnessed. They've talked about family members, or friends or whatever that have overdosed or died from that. And so we have had those conversations and some of it isn't just about drugs either. There's been conversation about alcohol. There's been conversation about tobacco. So there is that conversation that does occur and it is addressed.
But this model you say is a little different. And you know going back decades with DARE of course, a police officer would come in, and maybe have an assembly of some sort and kind of be in and out one time. But this involves faculty a little bit more doesn't it?
Yes, it does. If all of your teachers are familiar with the program, they can use the principals as far as the decision making model, the good choices and stuff like that. They can incorporate that into their daily interactions with the kids so that it's a consistent message throughout their school career.
I'm just wondering about how teachers are dealing with so much, faculty dealing with so much nowadays in schools and how it fits in with their schedule.
Where this crisis in the state nationwide is so broad and so deep, that they have to get creative with their time because prevention is very important.
These kids, they're seeing things, overdoses in their own home.
It's very different than it was generations ago.
Exactly, it's very important to get this age group at these grade levels, and deliver drug prevention messaging more than once. It's kind of like writing. You don't teach writing once. You've got to keep at it to make it effective.
Have you heard of any resistance from school systems saying that they want to stick with DARE or stick with their own programs rather than trying this?
Haven't heard of that. There are some departments that maybe haven't heard of LEAD. Forging relationships [with] any type of prevention is important. With this crisis that has happened, there's been this resurgence of schools wanting to do prevention type education. There was that mantra kind of in academia that DARE doesn't work. So we're not going to do it. So thanks but no thanks. So there's a lot of schools that have actually discontinued it and they've discontinued it for years, but now they're reaching out to their police departments to bring something back in because they're recognizing that they need that.