BLACKFOOT, Idaho - The Drug Abuse Resistance (DARE) program to help keep kids away from drugs and violence has become a key part of the curriculum in schools all over eastern Idaho, but DARE has its fair share of critics who say the program is not effective.
Bingham County's fifth-graders probably already know there are plenty more fun things to do than drugs.
Still, Bingham County's law enforcement is happy to drive that point home.
"We're supporting what the families are trying to do, that is keeping kids away from drugs and violence," said Sgt. Craig Luker with the Bingham County Sheriff's Office.
DARE celebrated its latest crop of graduates in Bingham County with plenty of former grads on hand to serve as "Role Models."
"DARE is such an important thing to remember in a child's life," said Natasha Luker, a Role Model who completed the program in 2005. "Especially in high school, you see a lot of drugs and alcohol and everything."
Everyone at Wednesday's event would gladly voice their support for DARE, but the program isn't as well received in other parts of the country. Some psychologists question whether or not dare actually keeps kids away from drugs.
One study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence states 31 percent of students tried marijuana within four years of the fifth grade, whether they completed DARE or not.
Another study on suburban students published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency shows that DARE made kids 3 to 5 percent more likely to try drugs.
Sgt. Luker remains adament about the program's success, thanks to his long list of DARE success stories.
"When the kids come up to you in high school and realize -- and say, 'Thank you,'" Luker said, acknowledging that himself, his colleagues and many local parents are willing to fight to keep DARE in schools.
"I think it's basic. I think it's foundational. I think it's fundamental," said Kristen Hansen, the mother of a recent DARE graduate. "A little bit of education in the beginning is going to greatly impact how the kids are in the future."
"There (are) trials that are up ahead of them," Luker said. "That's why fifth grade is so important."
Sgt. Luker estimates that DARE supplies cost $9,000 to $10,000 per year in Bingham County. Almost half of that money comes from the sheriff's office and community fundraisers.