The DARE officers in Iowa gathered this week in Le Mars for their annual conference.

The Le Mars Police Department and Assistant Chief Justin Daale hosted of the statewide conference. He says one of the topics of discussion was the dangers of vaping among elementary students.

“You know, we’re seeing a lot in middle school and high school but when you start trickling down to elementary you know what programs are going to work what can you do to talk to these kids about the dangers of vaping and smoking so we learned some new techniques new programs that dares coming out with,” he says. Daale says kids are lied to about vaping, that it’s safer than smoking.

DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and he says they try to talk to kids about making good decisions about vaping. He says that also pertains to the use of social media by students. “A lot of stuff happens over social media. So we went over a few new social media lessons that there’s coming out and how we can keep kids safe online,” Daale says, “not just kids, but what parents can look for, you know, on their kids, cell phones or iPads or whatever they have just to keep them safe also.”

Daale says the officers talked about the connection between social media and human trafficking. “We’ve had a lot of questions in the community about either trafficking or sex trafficking victims on how we can alert the community and kids, you know, what to look for how to stay away or how not to get trapped into that trafficking situation,” Daale says. “So, you know, it all starts with social media. It all starts with something simple, who you can and can’t trust online.”

The school resource officers will incorporate what they learned at the conference into their contacts with students and parents in the next school year.

(By John Slegers, KLEM, Le Mars)