The Evidence Portal

D.A.R.E.'s The Elementary keepin' it REAL (EkiR)

About the program

D.A.R.E.'s The Elementary keepin' it REAL (EkiR) consists of ten 45- minute lessons teaching the five core SEL (Socio-Emotional Learning) skills:

  • Self-awareness and management
  • Decision-making
  • Understanding and helping others
  • Relationship and communication skills
  • Handling responsibilities.

The program is delivered by police officers trained in D.A.R.E. program delivery.

Who does it work for?

EkiR was designed for 11–12-year-old children. The program has only been evaluated in the USA. A quasi-experimental design study (Day et al., 2017) was conducted with 943 participants (359 in the intervention group and 584 in the control group). The study sample included sixth grade students from 7 elementary schools. Socioeconomic status (measured by receipt of free breakfasts or lunches at school) did not differ between intervention and control groups. Self-reported grades also did not differ between intervention and control groups.

D.A.R.E.'s The Elementary keepin' it REAL (EkiR) has not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal Australians.

What outcomes does it contribute to?


  • EkiR participants reported an increased definitional knowledge for: evaluating your own decisions, confident communication, interpersonal resistance, and empathy. 
  • EkiR participants reported an increase in decision-making knowledge and decision-making skills
  • EkiR participants reported increased confidence in refusal skills (specifically ‘explain’)
  • EkiR participants reported increased eye contact and body language (communication skills)
  • EkiR participants were more likely to resist peer pressure to attend a movie instead of studying.

No effect:

  • The program had no effect on confidence in refusal skills (specifically ‘avoid’ and ‘leave’)
  • The program had no effect on self-control over anti-social behaviour
  • The program had no effect on perspective taking (communication skills)
  • The program had no effect on assertiveness (communication skills)
  • EkiR participants were no more likely to resist peer pressure to accept a cigarette
  • The program had no effect on EkiR participants’ intention to smoke cigarettes.

How effective is it?

Overall, the program had a mixed effect on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Mixed research evidence (with no adverse effects):

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • An equal number or more RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects.

How is it implemented?

EkiR is delivered in-person across ten 45-minute lessons by a police officer trained in EkiR curriculum delivery. The program is delivered in school settings.

Each lesson begins with a summary of the previous lesson with transition to an animated video presenting a narrative about a challenging situation in which the lesson topic is addressed (e.g., managing emotions).

The facilitator then leads a discussion resulting in the definition of a skill followed by application of concepts and skills to problem situations in their student workbook. Application is followed by small group / dyadic / or individual skill practice, with a concluding summary discussion, assignment of homework for further application and practice, and a concluding live action video summarizing core ideas from the lesson and introducing the topic for the next lesson.

The homework becomes the basis for the next lesson's summary. To further reinforce the lesson material, there is also a comic book titled REAL Adventures depicting the challenging situations and resolutions from the lessons.

How much does it cost?

The program costs for EkiR are not reported in study.

What else should I consider?

EkiR is designed to be delivered by a police officer, trained to deliver the EkiR curriculum.

Where does the evidence come from?

1 QED conducted in the USA with 943 participants (Day et al., 2017)

Further resources

Day, LE, Miller-Day, M, Hecht, ML, & Fehmie, D 2017, ‘Coming to the new DARE: a preliminary test of the officer-taught elementary keepin' it REAL curriculum’, Addictive Behaviors, vol. 74, pp. 67-73,

The following studies are particularly relevant to the program:

Hecht, ML, Graham, JW, & Elek, E 2006, ‘The Drug Resistance Strategies intervention: Program effects on substance use’. Health Communication, vol. 20, pp. 267–276,

Pettigrew, J, Graham, JW, Miller-Day, M, Hecht, ML, Krieger, JL, & Shin, Y 2015, ‘Adherence and delivery quality: Implementation quality and outcomes of 7th grade keepin' it REAL program’, Prevention Science, vol. 16, pp. 90–99,

Last updated:

09 Dec 2022

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