June 07, 2007 —
With a stuffed animal named "Darren the Lion" tucked carefully under my arm, a roll of sparkly stickers in my pocket, and my camera in the other, I leave work everyday to do something that I love. Once I arrive at my destination, I am often greeted at the door by sometimes "tiny" people with an occasional sticky hand, and always a toothy grin! After a brief stop at the office, I make my way down the colorful hallways where there are plenty of "high fives" to give,and a few hugs to share. Once I have made it to my classroom, I enter the room and hear the wonderful voices who greet me every day with, "Hi Officer Dyer! Can I hold Darren?" This, my friends, is the life of a D.A.R.E. Officer. In a way, it is sort of like being a grandparent. You get to show up for an hour, get everybody excited, and then LEAVE! I've apologized more than once to my teachers for getting the class all fired up! But, my teachers love it because it shows that the kids embrace their Law Enforcement friend and are interested in learning about the dangers of drugs. As a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Officer, we not only teach the kids the dangers of drugs, but we talk about peer pressure and violence. And, just as important, we talk about consequences, good and bad. I get the opportunity to talk to my "kids" about home life problems, boyfriend/girlfriend problems, and different types of abuse that may be familiar to them. And trust me, you definitely have the attitude that you can save them all! But, the reality of it is that you can only hope that you save at least one kid from doing drugs, or engaging in destructive behavior. At the end of the 12-week lessons, the students are required to write an essay about what D.A.R.E. has taught them, and how they will use what they are taught to be drug free. We often hear very touching stories, because D.A.R.E. often encourages the kids to open up and share a part of their life that has been touched by drug abuse or violence. It is sometimes an eye opener as to what our kids are living with, but it's also encouraging to see what their future holds! To sum it up, I just want to say that we ALL have a responsibility to talk to our kids about drug abuse, and now, we should add cough medicine to our list. I wish all of you could see through my eyes when I am talking to a class of 25 sixth graders about drugs and what I have seen as a law enforcement officer. You could hear a pin drop, and all 50 eyes are glued to mine. Our kids want to know about the dangers, they want to know how to avoid them, and they want to ask questions! And, they need the ones who love them to provide the answers. So, fellow moms and dads, what do you say we start talking to our kids about the dangers of cough medicine now.