Congratulations to the 218 Jefferson County youngsters who are graduating this week from the 2013 D.A.R.E. program.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation's school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.

D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug- and violence-free lives.

The D.A.R.E. curriculum is designed to be taught by police officers whose training and experience give them the background needed to answer the questions often posed by young people about drugs and crime.

Prior to entering the D.A.R.E. program, officers undergo 80 hours of special training in areas such as child development, classroom management, teaching techniques, and communication skills.

In addition to the drug message, D.A.R.E. allows students to see officers in a helping role and opens the lines of communication between law enforcement and youngsters.

The Madison Police Department has been an active participant in the D.A.R.E. program for several years. It is a pro-active program that gets an important message to young people.