A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

DARE to Change

This week I'm doing some research for an article on the D.A.R.E. program. That's Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Or at least it used to be. Now the focus of the program has expanded to include education about violence...anger management, date rape, and so on.

The town of Wilbraham has had a D.A.R.E. program in the schools since my kids were students there. I'll admit I pretty much thought it a waste of time back then. It made my kids uncomfortable, and I didn't like the way they were made to role-play scenarios in which at least one member of the group had to be the bad guy. It's not that I don't think kids should be educated about drugs, in school or out. I just didn't like the way it was done.

Somewhere along the line, thankfully, D.A.R.E. got an overhaul. It's still taught by cops, which is OK. Gives them a positive and preventative role, allows them to get to know the kids in their community. Apparently some kids take advantage of the class to draw an officer aside and discuss issues that are troubling them--problems at home, or with friends they don't know how to help.

The other improvement in D.A.R.E. is that it no longer teaches about drugs in a vacuum. Nobody abuses drugs unless he has some real problem he's trying to get away from...boredom or bullying or physical abuse at home or whatever. Discussing these issues, drilling it into kids that these are not acceptable situations, giving them information they can use to solve problems is a good thing.

Of course, when you take away the unacceptable behaviors, you have to substitute something else. The something else, when you're reading my newspaper column anyway, is always the YMCA. Keep kids busy--whether they're playing basketball, using a computer to finish their homework, or learning to step--and you keep them out of trouble. Wilbraham's lucky to have a brand-new, state-of-the-art YMCA facility for all of its bored little rich kids. Ironic that it was built on land I used to own. I wish it had been there for my children.


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