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Recognizing that enforcement alone will never curtail the use and abuse of illicit drugs, a partnership was established between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in 1983 to create a new drug resistance education program for elementary school students.

Because few drug prevention curricula were available for schools to adopt at that time, Dr. Ruth Rich, Health Education Curriculum Administrator for the LAUSD, developed the original 17-lesson elementary school D.A.R.E. curriculum. The new curriculum, based upon prevailing prevention science at the time, emphasized teaching specific information about specific drugs and their negative effects.

The demand for D.A.R.E. training and program implementation resulted in the creation of D.A.R.E.’s national/international substance abuse prevention dissemination infrastructure, which remains to this day a state-of-the-art standard for other prevention endeavors to emulate.

In 1984, D.A.R.E. created and implemented a middle-school curriculum. In 1989, D.A.R.E. introduced a high school curriculum.

2007 - Present

 Frank Pegueros, President/CEO, D.A.R.E. America, initiated a process that identified nine (9) prospective drug prevention programs that might fit with D.A.R.E. and may be interested in collaborating on implementation.

D.A.R.E. senior staff applied rigorous criteria identified through an interactive process with the D.A.R.E. Scientific Advisory Board, as well as with D.A.R.E.’s parallel Education and Law Enforcement Advisory Boards to review each of the nine programs.

This process led to selection of the keepin’ it REAL (kiR) curricula. Those curricula were developed by prevention scientists at the Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Concurrent with the adoption of the keepin’ it REAL curricula, a significant change occurred in the D.A.R.E. delivery methodology. The teaching style became interactive with an emphasis on facilitation, rather than a didactic presentation model. Instead of listening to a lecture, students spend most class time working in small cooperative learning groups, guided by the D.A.R.E. officer as they apply a decision-making model to develop their own unique ways of positively addressing high-risk situations in their lives.

The DARE/keepin’ it REAL middle-school curriculum was first delivered in 2008 while the DARE/keepin’ it REAL elementary curriculum was first delivered in 2013.

In 2016, D.A.R.E. America partnered with the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and REAL Prevention to develop a new high school curriculum. D.A.R.E.’s high school curricula program consists of three distinct modules that offer educators and law enforcement flexible and cost-effective options for providing students with relevant and timely information and tools to exercise responsible decision-making. The curricular components are independent, yet supportive of one another. The modules can be implemented individually, as companion pieces, or as a complete suite.

In 2018, D.A.R.E. launched a supplemental lesson on Opiate drug abuse prevention. 

Currently the Shelbyville Police Department has two DARE trained officers who have teamed up with the Shelby County Schools to provide this training.