By: Richard L. Smith
In a collaborative effort aimed at promoting a safer and healthier environment within Linden Public Schools, the Linden Police Department has joined forces with the school district to offer the L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) program to fifth-grade students at Linden School #8.
L.E.A.D. is a comprehensive educational initiative designed to prevent or reduce drug abuse and violence among children and youth.
It brings together certified law enforcement officers, educators, students, parents, and the community to provide classroom instruction on recognizing and resisting the many pressures that influence young individuals to experiment with drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, or engage in violent behaviors.
The program places a strong emphasis on enhancing protective factors, particularly fostering bonds with family, school, and the community.
These factors have been shown to cultivate resilience in young people who may be at risk for substance abuse or other problem behaviors.
L.E.A.D. focuses on developing essential life skills, such as social competence, communication, self-esteem, empathy, decision-making, conflict resolution, sense of purpose, independence, and promoting positive alternative activities to substance abuse and destructive behaviors.
Police Chief David Hart expressed the importance of the partnership, stating, "A strong, engaged partnership with our schools is a cornerstone of our community policing philosophy.
The L.E.A.D. program has a proven record of success, and we are excited to have an opportunity to build and enhance the relationships between our Officers and students to create a safer and healthier environment within our schools."
Before they can provide instruction, Officers must complete a 40-hour course to become certified instructors. Six Linden Police Officers have completed the training, and additional Officers are scheduled to attend.
Chief Hart also noted, "There is a significant commitment required to administer this program, and I want to thank Superintendent Perkins, Principal Rodriguez, and the Linden Board of Education for recognizing the value of this program and bringing it into our schools.
It is my hope that the success of this program will warrant future expansion into other Linden schools."
The L.E.A.D. program is incorporated into the school's curriculum, seamlessly fitting into health, science, social studies, language arts, or other relevant subjects.Superintendent Atiya Perkins expressed gratitude for the program, stating, "We are thankful for the Linden Police Department's L.E.A.D. program.
The program fosters a supportive and engaging educational environment. It also aligns with social and emotional learning by equipping students with valuable skills for self-awareness and responsible decision-making.
As Superintendent, my vision is to strengthen partnerships with the community to influence positive student outcomes. The L.E.A.D. program plays a crucial role in establishing unbreakable bonds for unstoppable student progress."
The New Jersey-based L.E.A.D. program, initiated in 2014, distinguishes itself by having third-party researchers validate its effectiveness. For more information about the L.E.A.D. program, please visit www.leadrugs.org.