Project DARE Ineffective 10 Years Later!

Project DARE Ineffective 10 Years Later!
Posted by FoM on August 02, 1999 at 12:03:41 PT
Source: Reuters
NEW YORK, Aug 02 (Reuters Health) -- The drug prevention program, Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), has no more long-term effectiveness in curbing substance abuse than standard health education classes, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky.
In a 10-year study of more than 1,000 sixth graders who had received either Project DARE (76%) or standard health education (24%) during the school year, "in no case did the DARE group have a more successful outcome than the comparison group," said Dr. Donald R. Lynam in an interview with Reuters Health.Lynam and colleagues looked at the use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs, and levels of peer-pressure resistance and self-esteem by the time the students were 20 years of age.The findings are published in the August issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, an American Psychological Association publication.The study included 431 boys and 571 girls who attended schools in the Midwest during the 1987-1988 school year.Lynam believes that DARE's focus on peer-pressure resistance and self-esteem may be the wrong model for teaching drug prevention. DARE's "low-intensity" contact (17 weeks of 1-hour sessions) is too little time at the wrong age, according to Lynam. "Drug use peaks in 10th through 12th grade," he noted."By targeting everybody, DARE may not be hitting kids most at risk," he said. "I'm in favor of more targeted interventions."SOURCE: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1999;67:590-593. 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on August 03, 1999 at 08:25:43 PT:
Study Fails to Find Value in DARE Program!
Founder Defends Anti-Drug Classes, Decries Critical Study as 'Voodoo Science'By Marc KaufmanWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, August 3, 1999; Page Z08 year, 26 million American schoolchildren are taught to resist the lure of drugs and alcohol by the DARE program, an increasingly popular course that uses local police officers as teachers.But a new study of the long-term usefulness of DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) raises questions about its effectiveness and popularity. The study, published in this month's Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that children who took the 17-week DARE course in elementary school used drugs and alcohol at the same rate 10 years later as children who learned about them in traditional health classes."Our results are consistent in documenting the absence of beneficial effects associated with the DARE program," concluded the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Kentucky. "This was true whether the outcome consisted of actual drug use or merely attitudes toward drug use."Study author Donald R. Lynam said the new research was the first to look at the 10-year effectiveness of DARE, which is now offered in 75 percent of school districts around the country, including many in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The program emphasizes the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and offers strategies on how to resist pressures to experiment. It also concentrates on self-esteem as an important factor in keeping children away from drugs, alcohol and violence.The new study was harshly attacked last week by the president and founding director of DARE, Glenn Levant, who charged that it used bad science and was part of a vendetta by therapists against the program. He said that for several years psychologists have been critical of the program, and so he was not surprised that the current report is being published in a journal of the American Psychological Association."This is directed, voodoo science," said Levant, a former deputy police chief in Los Angeles. "I truly believe they are setting out to find ways to attack our programs, and are misusing science to do it. The bottom line is that they don't want our police officers to do the work, because they want it for themselves. It's a rice bowl issue for them."Levant's criticism of the study centers on its evaluation of children who took only the 17-week introductory course in elementary school, and not those who took the initial course and then had the follow-up middle school and high school classes. He said that studies done at Ohio State University and the University of California, Long Beach of the full DARE curriculum with middle and high school classes have found clear benefits for students who had taken the program.Levant said the studies critical of DARE "all seem to cherry-pick jurisdictions that only use DARE in elementary school, but most districts use the full program. I call it academic fraud."Study author Lynam defended his research, which used questionnaires answered by 1,002 young Midwestern men and women who had taken DARE courses 10 years earlier in elementary school. He said his findings were consistent with numerous other studies which found few long-term reductions in drug or alcohol use among DARE students, though some did show short-term improvements in students' attitudes about drugs and alcohol. But Lynam also said that Levant had a "serious criticism of our results." He acknowledged that his study may have reached different conclusions if it had tested children exposed to DARE for three sessions instead of one. The DARE program was created by the Los Angeles police department and school district in 1983 and has been modified regularly, including an overhaul and expansion in 1994 to make it more interactive."DARE can be a difficult program to evaluate because they frequently change the curriculum and then say it's unfair to judge them on the old one," Lynam said. "We used the data that was available." Responding to Levant's criticisms, a spokesman from the American Psychological Association said, "The APA believes that drug education is important, and we support effective programs. The purpose of this research is to find what works best."The heated debate over the effectiveness of DARE is in stark contrast to its almost universal popularity with school and political officials. The program has been embraced at the highest levels, and presidents have noted "National DARE Day" yearly since 1988. In the most recent proclamation, President Clinton commended DARE for "encouraging young Americans to resist peer pressure and to lead lives free from the shadows of drugs and violence."The program was praised at last month's National DARE Day ceremonies by Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy. Speaking to 5,000 uniformed DARE police officers at the ceremony, Levant also described positive findings about the program from research in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. The Ohio State University study was of 3,150 11th graders, and it found that students who had attended DARE classes while in elementary school and again later were 50 percent less likely to become high-risk abusers of drugs and alcohol. The research, which has been accepted for publication by the American School Health Association, also found that DARE strengthened peer resistance skills, made students more likely to discuss drugs and drinking with their parents, and increased respect for police officers.But Lynam said his review of the literature on DARE led him to conclude "it is not true that there is a plethora of peer-reviewed and published studies out there that DARE is effective long-term. That work is precisely what needs to be done."In comments following their research findings, Lynam's team ask why DARE remains so popular "despite its lack of demonstrated efficacy." A possible answer, they suggest, is that "adults rightly perceive that most children who go through DARE do not engage in problematic drug use. Unfortunately, these individuals may not realize that the vast majority of children, even without any interventions, do not engage in problematic drug use."  Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
Study Fails to Find Value in DARE Program
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 02, 1999 at 18:03:44 PT:
D.A.R.E. Fails To Influence Teens From Drugs
D.A.R.E. Fails To Influence Teens From Drugs,10-Year Follow Up Study Shows July 29, 1999,Washington, D.C.: The nations largest, federally funded teen antidrug program, D.A.R.E., has no longterm effect on adolescent drug use, a new study to be published in the August issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found.   "This study joins a growing body of academic research demonstrating D.A.R.E.'s ineffectiveness as a deterrent to youthful drug use," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. "For this reason, numerous localities, including Houston, Oakland, and Seattle are scrapping the program."   Researchers tracked over 1,000 students who participated in the D.A.R.E. program in sixth grade. They re-evaluated the students at age 20, ten years after receiving the drug prevention education. The study found that the program initially influenced the students' perceptions toward drug use, but concluded that these changes did not persist over time.   "Some youth will use drugs and this will likely effect their lives in negative ways," said University of Kentucky psychologist Donald Lynam, who led the study. "We should try to do something for these youth, but D.A.R.E. is probably not the thing to do."   For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation   (202) 483-8751.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 02, 1999 at 14:21:18 PT:
Study Adds To Doubts on D.A.R.E. Program 
By Ellen Barry,Globe Correspondent08/02/99 years ago, when D.A.R.E.'s new approach to drug education was just beginning to capture the imagination of Americans, the city of Lexington, Ky., ran out of funding after installing D.A.R.E. officers in 23 schools, leaving eight schools to manage on their own.But 10 years later, the children who didn't have the Drug Abuse Resistance Education curriculum were just as likely to abuse drugs as the kids who went through D.A.R.E., according to a study to be released today by psychologists at the University of Kentucky.The study is the latest voice in a chorus of criticism from social scientists who say D.A.R.E. - the country's most widely used drug education program - has never demonstrated its effectiveness.But in Massachusetts, at least, the rising stack of academic criticism has done little to diminish D.A.R.E.'s popularity among parents or the police officers who administrate it. Although five Massachusetts cities or towns have abandoned D.A.R.E. in recent years, and Burlington, Vt., followed suit in May, 93 percent of Massachusetts municipalities remain firmly within ''the D.A.R.E. fold,'' according to Sheila Foley, the program's state coordinator.From the researchers' point of view, that continued enthusiasm shows Americans' stubborn resistance to apply science to drug policy. ''If you talk to people, they say, `My kid doesn't use drugs, and he's gone through D.A.R.E..' They're not being good scientists,'' said Donald Lynam, lead author of the study, published in the August issue of the American Psychological Association's Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. ''What I keep thinking of is if D.A.R.E. were a drug, I wonder if it could have FDA approval based on its efficacy? I don't think it could,'' he said.The Kentucky results fall in line with an earlier study showing that D.A.R.E.'s effects were measurable but short-lived. Last year, a six-year follow-up by University of Illinois criminologist Dennis Rosenbaum showed D.A.R.E. had a substantial failure rate, especially in the suburbs. Studies from the University of Colorado and North Carolina's Research Triangle Institute have drawn the same conclusion.One recent study, from Ohio State University, gave D.A.R.E. credit for producing students 50 percent less likely to become high-risk drug abusers.But the decisions about D.A.R.E. are made on the local level. To the program's defenders, such as Wakefield D.A.R.E. officer Bob Ramocki, the studies are more than canceled out by classroom experience. And all the studies have a built-in problem, he said: How do you measure prevention?About 12 years ago, the first Massachusetts towns began adopting D.A.R.E.'s idea of shifting the burden for drug education from health teachers to uniformed police officers. Using funds from the state tobacco tax, most towns involved in the program have a full-time D.A.R.E. officer - Ramocki even has an office in the middle school. One positive byproduct, say local D.A.R.E. officers, is that schoolchildren are on a comfortable footing with the police.''It used to be that when a police cruiser pulled up in front of a high school, people would think there was trouble,'' said Sergeant Vin Macchia, a D.A.R.E. officer in Lynnfield. ''Now, because of D.A.R.E., they think it's ordinary.''And Ramocki traced the criticism of D.A.R.E. in part to people who ''don't believe that police officers should be in the school teaching their kids.''That's not the point, said Joel H. Brown, who heads the Center for Educational Research and Development at University of California at Berkeley, and whose 1995 study for the California State Department of Education took the first serious shot at D.A.R.E.-type programs. Brown's criticism is not confined to D.A.R.E., but applies broadly to the zero-tolerance approach. Educators typically present drugs - including alcohol and cigarettes - as a monolith, overlooking differences that teenagers realize themselves through direct experience, leading to a traumatic moment of ''cognitive dissonance,'' he said. If adults were more nuanced in their presentation, students would find it easier to rely on their advice, he said. A better presentation of marijuana, for instance, would mention both good and bad effects while not condoning its use, he said. ''There's a big distance between `just say no' and `just say yes.'''And officials in some regions are coming to the same conclusion. When Burlington Police Chief Elana Ellis announced that she would discontinue the program in May, the Vermont city joined Omaha, Houston, and Seattle in the quest for a new approach. In Massachusetts, Lexington, Bedford, Lawrence, Lunenburg, and Harvard have also dropped the program - a trend that concerns Foley.''It does worry me, because I'm not sure what the alternative programs are,'' said Foley.This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 08/02/99.  Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company. 
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