Studies look into DARE program's (in)effectiveness

By Heretic.Ape. · Jun 8, 2007 · ·
  1. Heretic.Ape.

    Sixth-grader David Montion graduated last week from Abraham Lincoln School's Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, better known as DARE. The Simi Valley 13-year-old said he might want to be a police officer when he gets older.

    DARE is an officer-led series of classroom sessions intended to give students like David the tools to avoid drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence.

    The program is most often offered to fifth- and sixth-graders and focuses on helping them to resist peer pressure and build decision-making skills.

    The program was founded in Los Angeles in 1983. Its Web site says it now is used by 75 percent of the nation's school districts.

    David said he's happy to have finished the program and thinks it will help him avoid using drugs. His school was one of 15 in Simi Valley holding DARE graduations in May and June.

    "If I do drugs, I will die and never get older and do things that I want when I grow up," he said.

    Some studies, however, have stirred questions about DARE's effectiveness.

    A 2001 report, "Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General," released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that "evidence on the effects of the traditional DARE curriculum ... shows that children who participate are as likely to use drugs as those who do not participate."

    "There's not been a single scientific study that demonstrated the program is effective," said David J. Hanson, a retired professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Potsdam.

    Studies that evaluate the effectiveness of such programs select and monitor two groups of children of the same age and racial and socio-economic backgrounds. One group is exposed to the DARE program while the other is not. They are monitored as they move through life to see whether they become involved in drugs, violence or gang activity.

    Hanson, who has appeared on "NBC Nightly News" as an alcohol expert, said the doubts about DARE have not been well-publicized. "Many constituencies believe it works," he said.

    But Lincoln Principal Deborah Riley, 59, who has a doctorate in administration and supervision and has been an educator for 31 years, said she is not convinced by such research.

    "I'm really impressed by the program," Riley said. "Those kids know it's not OK to use drugs and alcohol.

    "I would like to see some real solid, longitudinal research on DARE. There is good research, but can research be better?"

    Dale Brown, the 63-year-old regional director of DARE America, said such studies are already under way. "The DARE program is all new and based on the latest research," he said.

    Brown was referring to an ongoing study at the University of Akron in Ohio. The study began in 2001 is following more than 20,000 students from six U.S. cities. Based on the research so far, the university recently rewrote DARE's curriculum to meet updated teaching methods. The updates focus on sound decision-making and significantly cutting the number of sessions involved.

    "We're trying to make it a much more manageable program," Brown said.

    Despite DARE's new curriculum, Hanson said, he remains critical, calling the program "a moving target."

    "I think we can summarize by saying it's the hope of victory over reality," he said. "If you're doing a program that doesn't work, what could you be doing that does work?"

    Brown said he's confident the new program will be effective, and fighting the idea that DARE doesn't work is one of his main concerns. "That is the battle I seem to spend the most time on," he said.

    Riley said she thinks it's a great resource for young people to be able to talk to police officers about the tough issues of drugs and alcohol. "It is really good for our kids," she said.

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  1. Felonious Skunk
    Exactly why drug propaganda is ineffective. The danger is when kids see the lies for what they are and then lump the (minimal) accurate information pandered by D.A.R.E. in with that.
    Even with her PhD in playground management, Ms. Riley is ready to dismiss any research that doesn't confirm her opinions. A competent educator would want to follow this up to see if the program is just a big waste of time, and if so, jettison it.
    That summarizes the entire "War on Drugs."
  2. RunRedFox
    According to swims DARE officer 'marijuana is often laced with LSD'. Are police officers really this clueless or do they just like to mess with little kids?
  3. zasabi
    i took the DARE program in 6th grade and it did make doing drugs a lot more intimidating but definately didn't prevent my imminent drug use
  4. EntheogenicTruth
    I think its really funny because there are people out there that believe everything the "teacher" tells them and very rarely do people speak out about lack of said evidence that tells them "drugs are bad, mmkay?" they just obey. i suppose its just the way the world works, the people in power teach the children and then the children being taught end up being the people in power and the cycle continues.
  5. Felonious Skunk
    ^^^^ Excellent points. This is because critical thinking is not taught in America's educational miasma.

    Therefore it must be taught at home, or by teaching oneself--and is usually acquired incidental to a natural curiosity about the world, a curiosity that ironically probably predisposes a person to experimentation with illicit substances.

    D.A.R.E. is the natural result of decades of dumbing-down of public schools--gone are civics classes and training students to think logically--in are "social studies" and programs where they are trained to think of police as their custodians.

    The people running America require an obediant populace--servants willing to die for flags and accept a shredded Constitution for the sake of cheap gas and some illusory security. This obediance would not come as easy if these servants were capable of scrutinizing the bullshit excreted by their government with a critical eye.
  6. UberDouche
    ^ ^ ^ ^ Well put, Felonious Skunk. I couldn't agree more.
  7. Bajeda
    If that isn't evidence of the brainwashing that DARE tries to enact, then I don't know what is.
  8. springplain
    Drug 'problems' are clearly a failure of policy and strategy. DARE and its ilk contribute to the problem by disguising themselves as a key part of the 'solution'. Promoters of this kind of prevention choose to ignore the multiple risk and protective factors that contribute to the chances of individuals and communities developing 'problems' with drugs. My jaundiced and weary self finds it hard to not shrug my shoulders and just let the cynics get on with their stupid games.
  9. Triple-Rox
    Really it is true that once the kids realize the lack of actual evidence the entire programs purpose dies. I remember my 5th grade dare program which showed alot of very unlikely situations like someone giving a line of coke to someone for free in an alley off a peice of carboard which at that point seemed all too possible but when you get older yuou realize how stuped it is. Then we had this bizzare video of little cartoon children walking through a park and a bunch of rabbits that look like they came straight out of an acid trip try to sell them drugs, and once again at that point it all seemed plausable (not the rabbits, the random dealers in parks) untill you realize thats just not how it goes.
  10. Nacumen
    SWIM's school district did the DARE thing. SWIM personally smoked marijuana with 5% of the students in his graduating class during high school alone. SWIM has heard (with specific names) that about 15% of his class have smoked marijuana. SWIM guesses that at least 30% of his graduating class smoked marijuana before finishing high school, and that the number is actually probably around 40%.

    SWIM knows a lot of kids who smoked marijuana just to 'see what it's like', and then never do it again, and are hesitant to ever tell anyone else about it, which is why he puts the percentage of kids who've smoked at least once before finishing high school so high - one could know all of the right crowds for smoking, but as it is illegal and taboo in the community in general, one will probably never know the real number of those who've tried marijuana, as it sometimes densely shrouded in secrecy.

    These percentages may not seem very significant, but if I told you exactly how many students are in this school, then it becomes obvious that the DARE program has largely failed in its effort to keep America 'drug-free'.

    Maybe if the law enforcement agents stopped smoking tobacco, drinking coffee, and drinking alcohol of all kinds - they'd set a better example of what being drug-free is really like. I guess a lot of kids just see them for what many of them really are - hypocrites - and realize that they too would be fools for swallowing their bullshit without first verifying their outlandish claims.
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