D.A.R.E. - keepin' it REAL

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program was implemented in 1983 and has been taught in Ellisville since 1990 in 4 schools - Ellisville Elementary School, Ridge Meadows Elementary School, St. Clare of Assisi Elementary School and St. John Lutheran School.


The DARE curriculum has gone through many changes since its conception, but none as big as the new keepin' it REAL curriculum. keepin' it REAL is a model multicultural drug resistance and life skills curriculum and was first developed for students in grades 6 through 9. It was such a success that the program was developed for elementary aged students and is being taught to them for the first time in 2012. This innovative curriculum is intended to build on the partnership between DARE and keepin' it REAL to provide enhanced tools for keeping youth safe and drug free.

The curriculum was developed by Arizona State University and Penn State University with funding provided by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is published by ETR Associates. To reach school youth, the curriculum developers based the program on adolescents' narratives of how they had resisted drugs. As a result, the curriculum incorporates the following four drug resistance strategies represented by the acronym REAL:

  • Refuse offers of substance use in an assertive way that maintains social acceptance and self-confidence
  • Explain your reason for refusal
  • Avoid situations where substances are used and offered
  • Leave situations where substances are used and offered

Making A Difference

Since 1983 DARE has demonstrated leadership in the prevention of drug abuse. Collaborative efforts among Law Enforcement, Education and Prevention Science have distinguished the DARE program. DARE's keepin' it REAL Elementary Curriculum continues this commitment to provide cutting edge instruction that prevents drug use by developing basic or core skills needed for safe and responsible choices. These skills extend beyond drugs to health and mature choices in life. Developing core academic and life skills, the curriculum furthers both educational and prevention goals.

The DARE's keepin' it REAL Elementary Curriculum is designed based on the Socio-Emotional Learning theory (SEL). SEL identifies fundamental, basic skills and developmental processes needed for healthy development including:

  • Handling responsibilities and challenges
  • Relationship and communication skills
  • Responsible decision making
  • Self-awareness and management
  • Understanding others
DARE Approved Website

The curriculum uses this theory to teach youth to control their impulses and think about risks and consequences resulting in more responsible choices. We believe that if you can teach youth to make safe and responsible decisions, this guides them to healthy choices not only about drugs but across all parts of their lives. As they grow to be responsible citizens, they will lead healthier and more productive drug-free lives.

Further information is available at the official DARE website.