City's No Longer Taking the DARE

City's No Longer Taking the DARE
Posted by CN Staff on June 21, 2002 at 14:18:40 PT
By Dan McGraw
Source: Fort Worth Weekly 
When I was in the seventh grade in 1971, my elementary school brought one of the local police officers to our classroom to lecture us about the evils of illegal drugs. Granted, we didn't really know what illegal drugs were at this point. Drugs were something that hippies did, and given that we didn't see any hippies at Holy Cross School, we didn't pay much attention to this cop standing before us. But then he said something that made me and my friends sit up and take notice. "There was a young high school student," the cop intoned breathlessly, "who took LSD and woke up a few days later in California." 
I couldn't believe what I just heard. Take a pill and wind up in California. I'd never been to California, but I'd seen it on tv. I knew there were beaches and surfers and Disneyland. Swimming pools, movie stars. So when the cop told me that taking drugs might cause me to wind up in California, I thought there might be something to what this guy was talking about. Police officer dude, count me in. It was after that cop came into our classroom that my friends and I first started talking about drugs. The more we talked, and the more we looked around, the fewer reasons we found not to take drugs. The intended effect of the drug education -- to curb our desires through scare tactics -- had instead piqued our curiosity. That summer, with pot we got from someone's older brother, five best friends began getting stoned. Most of us would do so for the next 20 years. Over the years, some of us even tried to get to California. I was reminded of my drug education last week when Fort Worth Police Chief Ralph Mendoza announced that he will be eliminating the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in the Fort Worth public schools. Mendoza cited the fact that DARE failed to reduce narcotic use among youths. He thought his officers would be better used in finding criminals and putting them in jail, instead of drilling fifth-graders on the evils of marijuana. The decision by the Fort Worth police is part of a trend that could spell the end of the DARE program as we know it. Numerous studies have shown that DARE has little impact in reducing drug use among those who have taken the program. At the same time, in the post-9-11 world, police departments are facing increased responsibilities while cities are slashing budgets. Los Angeles recently cut its DARE funding in half, and Salt Lake City got rid of the program entirely. Dozens of cities, large and small, have gutted or completely abolished DARE programs in the past few years. DARE was started in 1983 by the Los Angeles Police, with twin intentions. On the one hand, it was an educational program designed to teach young children how to say "no" in the face of peer pressure to use drugs. On the other hand, DARE was also a police-community relations program, designed to bring police officers into schools, to be seen by parents (who are voters and taxpayers) as real, caring people who do more than write traffic tickets and beat people with billy clubs. Tarrant County District Clerk and Republican operative Tom Wilder recognized the political side of DARE in the early 1990s, when he took an obscure Haltom City DARE coordinator named David Williams and helped get him elected Tarrant County sheriff. Williams had little real law enforcement experience and few ideas on how to run the sheriff's office, but he was against drugs, and that seemed good enough for voters. Over the years, 80 percent of school districts in the country bought into the DARE promise. In large school districts, the program cost more than $1 million a year to implement. At a cost of $20-50 per child taking the 17-week course, and the fact that police officers were being taken off the street to coordinate the programs, the expectations that the program might actually work were reasonable. But study after study -- including ones by the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education -- found that taking the DARE program made no difference in the incidence of drug use later in the child's life. In Minnesota, a study found that students were more likely to use marijuana in the sixth grade if they had been in the DARE program in the fifth grade. Maybe they told those Minnesota kids the story about waking up in California. Last week at D. McCrae Elementary, the Fort Worth program -- started in 1987 -- held one of its last graduations of DARE kids. Many parents and educators bemoaned the loss of DARE, and Fort Worth Police Officer D.W. Frazier, DARE officer and trainer for the past seven years, disputed the findings of the studies. He also vowed he'd be back. "This is God's work," Frazier said. "It will always be in my heart while riding bike patrol." But within the crowd at McCrae was evidence of the failure of the program. Antonio, a ninth-grader from Polytechnic High School, there to watch a family member graduate, said he took the DARE training when he was in the fifth grade. By the time he reached high school, he was smoking a dime bag every day with his friends and eventually flunked out of school. His parents sent him to boot camp, and Antonio said he is now drug free. He said he still thinks the DARE program is a good thing but admitted that he knew a bunch of kids who were smoking pot in the sixth grade despite attending DARE a year earlier. "I wanted to try a new thing," Antonio said. "When you are older, you want to experiment and see how things are." And, in a nutshell, that was the problem with DARE. The message focused almost entirely on peer pressure and scare tactics. Once teens saw their friends experimenting with drugs without full-blown addiction, researchers found, the kids would throw out all of the DARE lessons. "Once that happens, they feel they have been lied to," said Donald Lyman, a University of Kentucky researcher who has studied DARE, "and they reject the whole message." My daughter took the DARE program last year as a fifth-grader at Luella Merrett Elementary. I knew she had little clue at her age as to what drug abuse was and how it would affect someone's life. But the things she did pick up bordered on absurdity. In one lesson, she was told by a DARE officer that her first drug experience would likely be at the hands of a gang member at knife-point. I told her it would be more likely be at half-time of a high school football game, with friends and no weapons involved. There's been no decision on which replacement program the Fort Worth ISD might adopt. Districts that have already shed DARE generally are using programs that move the drug-resistance education to middle school and high school. The curriculum is being handled by health/science teachers and counselors, with some input from law enforcement. But if educators are serious about drug abuse prevention, a change in the mindset that the DARE program fostered for 30 years is needed. DARE told students about most of the reasons for drug abuse -- peer pressure, low self-esteem, parental abuse -- but had a blind spot about the most obvious reason: pleasure. Jonathan Zimmerman, a history professor at New York University who has studied alcohol and drug education programs, believes that schools must be more honest with students if any of these programs are to work. "Most adults probably fear that any acknowledgment of pleasure will increase the allure of these activities," Zimmerman recently wrote. "But students already know the joy of sex, alcohol, and drugs. They know it from film and television; they know it from popular music; they know it, sometimes, from their own experience. What they don't know -- or don't understand --are the dangers that these pleasures can bring. But we'll never persuade our children to take heed of the dangers if we continue to lie or dissemble about the pleasures." Staff writer Jeff Prince contributed to this story. Note: It was a feel-good program that didn't talk about feeling good.Newshawk: Dan McGrawSource: Fort Worth Weekly (TX)Author: Dan McGrawPublished: June 13, 2002Copyright: 2002 New Times, Inc.Contact: feedback fwweekly.comWebsite: DARE Archives
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Comment #6 posted by R-Earing on June 22, 2002 at 09:07:53 PT:
God's work? He created cannabis,now he's tired of it so he commands donut eaters on mountain bikes to brainwash people into eradicating it? Doesn't that seem a roundabout way for a deity to conduct himself/herself? Especially one that was given to plagues of locusts,et al. Knife point? Sounds like a story I'd tell my mom if I was all red eyed after coming home from school. "I was minding my own business...These guys held me down and blew pot smoke into my lungs...there was nothing I could do!" Do ya think Officer Hogg actually beleives this apocryphal tale after hearing it on the playground?When the drug cop came to my elementary school with a big display of pot paraphenalia we all thought it was so cool we begged for rides downtown so we could go to the headshop.Within a week, all the kids had hashpipes,belt buckle pipes,coke spoon necklaces,dugout stash boxes etc.
We all stood around aimlessly sucking on our pot free pipes for a few weeks til somebodies older sibling scored a bag.
Our school had practically no drug use before the visit and after,the cool paraphenalia was such a status symbol that the whole school was "primed" for an explosion in use.No one really cared about the drugs,the were just an accesory.
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on June 22, 2002 at 07:00:46 PT
Years ago
when I was in high school health class the teacher intoned on about the dangers of pre marital sex... pregnancy, disease, messyness, etc... He ended by saying, "Is an hour's worth of pleasure worth a life of shame?"
One of the students asked, "How do you make it last an hour?"  
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Comment #4 posted by Roger Christie on June 21, 2002 at 20:50:26 PT:
 D.A.R.E. - It's hypnosis for kids to take 'drugs'
Don't think of a pink elephant. The way the command is framed, you MUST think of a pink elephant! Right?Same with D.A.R.E. Kids MUST think of 'drugs' as soon as D.A.R.E. is mentioned. They can't not think of drugs. And so it goes along the entire system of so-called 'drug education'. It's hypnotism promoted to kids by police with guns, wrongly called 'education'. A very sick and perverted scheme indeed. 
 * The Hawai'i Cannabis Ministry *
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Comment #3 posted by hempity on June 21, 2002 at 16:27:59 PT
Puritan perversion
Officer D.W. Frazier, DARE officer and trainer for the past seven years, disputed the findings of the studies. He also vowed he'd be back. "This is God's work," Frazier said. "It will always be in my heart while riding bike patrol."Are theses people saying that God is perverted? or just confused??
And I also agree, it is not good to expose children to police, nor adults for that matter.
Thought that DARE stood for Drugs Are Really Exciting.
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Comment #2 posted by Naaps on June 21, 2002 at 16:17:43 PT
Brainwashed by DARE
Stan Wawzonek, 60, is presently cycling across Canada, in a million dollar fundraising effort to promote DARE. He left St. Johnís Newfoundland on April 30th and anticipates being in Victoria, BC, on July 31st. He is being accompanied by a motorhome, carrying the heavy stuff.Stan claims that DARE is a good program, which he doesnít want to lapse. He says his four children never used drugs, and he doesnít want any of his eight grandchildren using drugs.While the DARE program may, in his mind, be a worthy cause for a 9000-km journey, I wonder how thoroughly he studied its effectiveness. Does he actually believe all the propaganda?I wonder if he is aware that the federal government spent approximately $500 Million in the effort to control illegal drugs last year. Of that, 95% went to enforcement. Further, even the Auditor General wasnít able to clearly determine how the money was spent, especially as there appears to be no firm goals which the funds are targeted with achieving.I wonder what Stan thinks of Vancouver Island RCMP DARE Officer Barry Schneider, who died a couple years ago from a speedball overdose.I wonder how much money Stan is pulling in. Are people as enamoured by DARE as he is?Cycling across the country, accompanied by Motorhome, sounds attractive. Iíd like to do it to promote Cannabis re-legalization.  
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on June 21, 2002 at 15:20:30 PT
Puritan perversion
In one lesson, she was told by a DARE officer that her first drug experience would likely be at the hands of a gang member at knife-point.And would her panties get ripped and her breasts heave?Geezus these people are freaks. They want to administer urine tests to the prepubescent crowd, they do thong checks at high school dances and they turn ordinary casual pot smoking into a gang rape scenario.We need to get these kinds of people out of the school system pronto.Cops pick up all kinds of sick stuff on the job. Who ever said it was a good idea to expose mere kids to that?
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