PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: August 15, 2002
REALITY PROGRAM MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR DELAWARE TEENS
The Attorney General's Office, the Delaware State Police and local civic groups have joined together to bring REALITY, a diversion program for teens charged with minor drug and/or alcohol offenses, to Delaware. Much of the financial support for the program has been provided by various lodges, statewide, of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Since the program began last September, 325 teens have successfully completed the program. Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 have participated in the four session program that involves education about tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy.
Terry Ober, the National Coordinator for the REALITY Program said, "The program has had a four (4) percent recidivism rate with those who have successfully completed the program. It affords youth, who are engaging in risky behavior, an opportunity to learn the truths associated with alcohol and drug use, and shares information to allow them to make better choices and wiser decisions."
The Delaware REALITY program is part of REALITY USA, a program brought to the state by Attorney General Brady. Attorney General Brady commented, "REALITY" is a worthwhile program that impacts these young offenders, and changes their attitudes and behavior. I am pleased we are able to offer it statewide, and thank the Elks and the Delaware State Police for their support."
Referrals into the program come from the Attorney General's office as an alternative to prosecution, and from Family Court Judges as a condition of sentence. Parents can also enroll their teen if they suspect that the teen is engaging in at-risk behaviors such as alcohol or drug use. Teens need not have been arrested to be eligible for program participation.
The Newark Elks sponsor the New Castle County program. The Dover and Milford Elks lodges sponsor the Kent County program. The Sussex County program is sponsored by the Selbyville, Seaford and Cape Henlopen Elks lodges. "The Elks have a major drug awareness campaign and REALITY fits in with our purpose," stated Joseph McGeeney, State Drug Awareness Chairman for the Maryland, Delaware and District of Columbia Elks Association. "The Elks support the program because we want to make a difference in our youth and in our future. The Elks have been involved in our communities and in many youth related activities. REALITY gives the Elks a greater opportunity to reach our youth for a better and stronger tomorrow."
The Delaware State Police coordinate the program. Sgt. Roger Willey is the statewide coordinator and is responsible for the Kent and Sussex sessions. Willey commented, "the REALITY program is a second chance for Delaware youth. The program is one of the few avenues which parents can take to address issues of substance abuse before their kids become involved in the criminal justice system." Sgt. William Alexander, Drug Abuse Resistance Education Coordinator for the Delaware State Police and coordinator of the New Castle County sessions said, "this is one of the best programs that I have ever seen and I wanted to be a part of it. REALITY does not sugar coat anything, it tells it like it is."
Community volunteers including local hospital staff, fire department personnel, correctional officers, attorneys, funeral directors, MADD representatives and law enforcement serve as speakers for the sessions. Teens visit hospitals, the Courts, juvenile detention centers and boot camp as part of the program.
Parents who want more information about the REALITY education program can call REALITY USA toll-free at 866-758-3004