ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) - At a time when research shows drug abuse is growing among young teenagers, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is teaching children to resist peer pressure at an early age.
Schools are opening their doors to DARE to start the discussion.
The 5th graders at Irving Pertzsch Elementary School in Onalaska have a lot of questions.
Each week Onalaska Police Department's DARE Officer Leah Myers answers them.
She helps these 10-and-11-year-olds dare to say "no" when it comes to peer pressure.
"It's alarming to see that some of these students are faced with pressures of alcohol, pressures of drugs, the bullying, and all of these different topics are all coming in, in the 5th grade," Myers said.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 12-to-17-year-olds abuse prescription drugs more than ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamines combined.
Those statistics have 5th grade teacher Stephanie Estell saying communication about drug abuse and peer pressure needs to start early.
"It's a new world and kids are being faced with these things younger and younger," Estell said. "So, I think it's really important to give them the skill set as early as possible."
Myers said these students mentioned their older siblings, even their peers using drugs.
She hopes these kids DARE to make healthy choices, because the pressure of growing up also comes with the pressure of peers.
Officer Myers speaks to Irving Pertzsch 5th grade classes several times a month.
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