Instructors of the DARE curriculum are local police officers who must undergo 80 hours of special training in areas such as child development, classroom management, teaching techniques, and communication skills. For high school instructors, 40 hours of additional training are prescribed. Police officers are invited by the local school districts to speak and work with students. Police officers are permitted to work in the classroom by the school district and do not need to be licensed teachers. There are programs for different age levels. Working with the classroom teachers, the officers lead students over a number of sessions on workbooks and interactive discussions.
The DARE program enables students to interact with police officers or sheriffs in a controlled, safe, classroom environment. This helps students and officers meet and understand each other in a friendly manner, instead of having to meet when a student commits a crime, or when officers must intervene in domestic disputes and severe family problems. The Surgeon General reports that positive effects have been demonstrated regarding attitudes towards the police.
It is also an important tertiary crime and violence prevention education program. The D.A.R.E. program cites cases where assertiveness and self-defense education helped prevent students from being harmed. D.A.R.E. officers also help schools when children are threatened, and their presence helps alleviate concerns about situations like school shootings and other threats of violence to children while at school.
In 2007, a new curriculum for prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter drug abuse was created by D.A.R.E. America. Other contributors included: law enforcement officials; PhRMA; Abbott Laboratories; the Consumer Healthcare and Products Association (CHPA); and a number of other organizations, including the ONDCP, the DEA, the FDA, the NIDA, the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Recently, D.A.R.E. adopted Penn State University's keepin' it REAL middle school curriculum, an evidence-based curriculum listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). keepin' it REAL is now being implemented in the US and worldwide by D.A.R.E.