SEASIDE - Seaside Police Officer Cpl. Thomas Cain says he hopes the community will be daring enough to support Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

The Seaside Police Department will sponsor the fourth annual Seaside Police D.A.R.E. Golf Tournament at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Seaside golf course, 451 Avenue U. Cost is $55 per person and includes green fees, lunch and door prize tickets. Prizes include restaurant gift certificates, handmade jewelry and a car for a hole-in-one.

Cain presents a D.A.R.E. eight-week program each year to about 100 fifth-grade students in the Gearhart and Seaside elementary schools. He usually spends about $2,500 a year and hopes the tournament will raise about $3,000. Every student who participates in the program receives a t-shirt, learning books and stickers. He also gives care packages to students who complete the program.

"Our D.A.R.E. program is really cost-efficient," Cain said. "But due to a limited police budget and because the program is not city-funded, the money is dwindling."

The Seaside Police Department has been offering the D.A.R.E. program to students for about 10 years. Cain has been a D.A.R.E. officer for five years. In the past, the program was funded by private citizens, businesses and civic organizations. But with the poor economy, it quickly became clear that the program would not survive without fund-raisers. Cain thought that a golf tournament would be a good way to raise the "most amount of money in one swoop."

The D.A.R.E. program was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, Calif. and more than 26 million children participate. D.A.R.E. officers receive about 80 hours of special child development and classroom management training. The program is designed to help youth resist peer pressure and live drug, alcohol and violence-free lives.

"Nowhere, at any time, did D.A.R.E. say that it was the silver bullet to cure drugs," Cain said. "It is really a partnership between schools, parents and law enforcement."

Studies have shown that kids are the most impressionable at the pre-teen ages, which is why the program is focused at the fifth-grade level. One of the fastest-growing criminal age groups in the country is 10 to 13, Clatsop County Juvenile Director Georgia Stewart said. Most fifth-grade students are nine and 10 years old.

Each D.A.R.E. lesson has its own focus: self-esteem, stress, role models, decision-making and consequences. Not every lesson is drug- and alcohol-related.

"The major objective is to give these kids a real honest lesson on the effects of the choices that they'll be making and the benefits of saying no," Cain said.

Some people question if the D.A.R.E. program really works and Cain would be lying if he said that every student who participates never uses drugs.

"People quote these studies that have asked kids if they were D.A.R.E. students and if they smoked or used drugs," he said. "When the kids answer yes to both questions, they say that it doesn't work. But what they don't ask is any follow-up questions. A high percentage of these kids are not repeat users."

Another important benefit of the program Cain said is that it "humanizes" police officers. Students get to know a real police officer, one who is not always arresting "bad guys" or writing speeding tickets. Students are invited to ask Cain any question, any time.

"Police are here to help you and we're your friend," he said. "We even go to movies, sometimes."

The D.A.R.E. program also is offered in Warrenton and Svensen.


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