DARE returns to Knox County Schools

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knox County Sheriff's office is announcing the return of the DARE anti-drug program for children. DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

A formal announcement by Sheriff Tom Spangler on Tuesday followed an earlier announcement Monday during Safety Day at Smokies Stadium. Safety Day involved 5,000 4th grade students visiting the stadium for a game.

Sheriff Spangler said the DARE program will start back in 22 Knox County public schools in the fall of 2019, involving classes for at least 3,000 students. "And it's an hour per week. So it's not a lot of time. It's not a lot of time that we get to spend with em, but we want to make sure that that time that we do is very constructive with them and from the success that we saw so many years ago with DARE, we want to make sure it happens again."

Sheriff Spangler assigned Officer Sheila Palmer to coordinate the new curriculum with at least four instructors. Palmer said the new program will offer an updated version of what officers previously taught in schools. "I see opiates, now which I didn't see then. All we really talked about before was marijuana and alcohol and tobacco. Now DARE is bringing in the opiates and vape and all the other things that are happening now."

The department said it had been several years since it was able to teach a DARE curriculum in public schools.

The newly updated DARE curriculum called "Keepin' it REAL" is what Roane County Sheriff's officers have been teaching in public schools for the past two school years.