All posts for the month October, 2014


Another school shooting this week and fear returns to our nation’s parents and children.  How quickly we Minnesotans forget that we have had two of our own schools shootings.  Have we become so focused on politics that we forgot our children need us?  What are we doing to prevent violence in our schools?

During the years of a poor economy, many communities somehow thought, it would be economical to eliminate D.A.R.E. programs.  Let’s take the law enforcement officers out of the schools and put in a security plan instead.  Let’s consider arming the teachers and ask our children to hide under their desks or in closets.  Is this preventing violence?

Other communities said, let’s take the D.A.R.E. officer out of our elementary schools and put a liaison officer in the high schools instead.  First, a liaison officer usually does not teach “prevention” but instead is working on “reacting” to incidents.  I am not saying they are not necessary and helpful but this plan left our elementary kids with a school secretary or administrator as their front line of defense.  Isn’t it safer to teach children prevention, starting at a young age?

When I first came to work for D.A.R.E., 17 years ago, our D.A.R.E. officers were on the playgrounds and in the lunchrooms.  One the best parts of the program was the positive relationship between that officer, the children, and families they served.  Now those officers, get a few hours in the classrooms a week, at best.  At least those schools still have law enforcement in their buildings.

Over the past few years, many cities, schools, and law enforcement agencies decided they needed to cut budgets.  They decided they could use the excuse to cut D.A.R.E. “because the studies say D.A.R.E. doesn’t work.”  When I ask them “what studies?”  I am usually left with a blank look.

There have been many, many studies of D.A.R.E. over the years.  D.A.R.E. was the first and has been the  largest drug and violence prevention program.  D.A.R.E. took ALL of those studies and continued to update the program from that original program in the early 80’s.  Studies are conducted to show us ways to become better and more effective.  As time passes, you can build on those findings and modify the program to fit the times.  D.A.R.E. has added additional programming through the years providing information for grades K-12, parents, and communities.

The current D.A.R.E. program is actually called  keepin’ it…REAL.  It is on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

What about the strength of the D.A.R.E. Officer in the classrooms as the instructor?  This too has been studied and reported in a journal article.

What about officers assisting with other important issues in our schools?  Well, D.A.R.E. has a delivery system that has also been evaluated.  We can take other important health and safety information  and distribute it quickly to students and families, nationwide.

Most important there are specially-trained, law enforcement officers walking the halls of our schools.  They are trained to look for potential problems and take that information to the school administration, mental health workers, school nurses, teachers, and parents.  This week they will be in the classrooms comforting children, teachers, and parents; who are frightened about their safety.  They are trained to deal with emergency situations.  Most important, they are friend to your children.

D.A.R.E. is a nonprofit organization.  We do not make more money by having D.A.R.E. in more schools.  IT IS OUR MISSION  to educate and advocate for the health and safety of our children.  We want to PREVENT these incidents!

If you are interested in a D.A.R.E. program in your school, you can find out how to start one at:

For more information in Minnesota, contact us at Minnesota D.A.R.E., Inc. –

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC

Minnesota D.A.R.E., Inc. Executive Director


We are always so busy.  There are not enough hours in a day.  I can’t afford to “waste time.”  Please stop, you are wasting my time!  Have you ever had these thoughts?

I saw this quote and it made me stop and think:

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”   —  Bertrand Russell

If we are enjoying what we are doing, why don’t we just take a little time and enjoy it?  Don’t we deserve a little wasted time?  Don’t we really need a little wasted time?

What if, in all of our “busyness” we are really wasting time that is really important time?  Time with our family, our children, seeing the beautiful day, being grateful, seeing the good in people, breathing, etc.; these moments are passing us by.  Your child or spouse begging for your attention may need your time.  The few minutes you give may be well worth those few extra moments.

Today, take a few minutes and waste some time!   Take a few moments and enjoy it!   Stop and see the importance of those few minutes before you write them off as wasted.  It’s your choice how you want to spend your time.

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LADC, LGSW




Every morning this week, I woke up to negative messages…on the home page of the computer server, the newspaper, Facebook, the TV, etc., etc.  There were negative stories on the stock market, Ebola, ISIS activity, political controversary, and the list goes on.  Do you know the impact this can have on people?  These messages can spread like a virus and create an epidemic of negativity.

Did you ever notice how, when we get close to an election, more and more negative news stories emerge?  A simple use of wording, can slant a story one way or another, and send out tainted messages.

Watch the stock market.  An economic report can be interpreted as positive or negative and it can throw off the market.


If you choose to read all of those negative articles, watch for simple words that are intended to cause panic or mislead you.  They may speculate, look at “possible” leads, and sensationalize.  If you have ever been interviewed, it is shocking how they only take small bytes of what you said, and twist it to have a new meaning.  You may not even recognize the statements credited to you.

Is it any wonder we live in an anxiety filled world?  It “appears” there is nothing positive in our world of gloom and doom.  When we choose to believe it, it becomes a part of  our daily conversation, and it continues to spread like a bad game of telephone.

Don’t let the media have power over you!  Don’t let other media followers influence your thinking!

Start today by seeing the beauty in the world!  It is all arount you too.  Your thoughts belong to you!  Don’t allow others to dump negativity on you.  Choose to pass positive energy on your children, family, friends, and neighbors.  This too can spread like a virus throughout the world!

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC


Today, I challenge you to BE peace.  If you chose peace it will have an impact on you and the world around you.

Some days we look around us and feel like we live in a world of chaos.  The home page of your web server is full of negative news; the market is tanking; your house is a mess;  and your children are yelling.  YOU have the power to choose to peace.

Step away for a little while.  Take some deep breaths that go deep into your lungs; blow out the negativity and breathe in the clean air.  Release the things that are unimportant and replace them with peace. You have the power to control you own thoughts.  Do not give that power to someone or something else.  Peace is in You.  Take the time today and find it.

Think about the lessons we can teach our children, if we can be a peaceful role model.  Help them learn how to chose peace.  A chaotic house will create anxiety, not peace.  Yelling, judging, and complaining causes stress.  What does your home look like?

BE peace today and see the difference it makes for you and your world.

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC – Minnesota D.A.R.E. Executive Director