Study Questions Effectiveness Of DARE

Study Questions Effectiveness Of DARE
Posted by FoM on August 30, 1999 at 07:22:41 PT
BY Michael Vigh
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
While DARE may be the most widely used drug-education program in America, a new study suggests that in the long run the program does little to stop teens from using drugs or alcohol. 
The study, conducted by University of Kentucky researchers, found that after initial improvements in students' attitudes toward drug use, the positive effects did not last.   But, Drug Abuse Resistance Education officials call the study outdated and say the program offers the most effective curriculum to help students say "No."   The study's results were published in the August issue of the American Psychological Association's Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The study, by psychologist Donald R. Lynam and several others, tracked over 1,000 Midwestern students who participated in the program in the sixth grade. The students were re-evaluated at age 20 by researchers 10 years after receiving the anti-drug education.   Salt Lake City police Sgt. Ken Hansen, who oversees the DARE program for his department, concedes it is difficult to quantify the results of a prevention program. But he still sees many benefits.   "The DARE officers really can't go anywhere where they are not recognized by a former student," Hansen said. "The bond developed between officers and students is one of the most valuable results of the program."   He says if you want the lessons to stick with students, police need to reinforce the anti-drug message as the student matures.   "We have recently started teaching in the junior highs and are planning to start a program in high school," he said. "We've got to give kids the information and hope they will use it."   Lynam agrees.   He just doesn't believe DARE is an effective approach.   "Some youth will use drugs and this will likely affect their lives in negative ways," Lynam is quoted in the study as saying. "We should try to do something for these youth, but DARE is probably not the thing to do."   In DARE's defense, Hansen pointed to a 1997 survey which showed that Cedar City students "overwhelmingly support the teaching of DARE in all classrooms everywhere."   In that survey, 93 percent of students gave positive comments when asked about the 17-week course. The Iron County School District was chosen for the survey because DARE is taught to students in the fifth, seventh and 10th grades. That study was paid for by DARE officials.   DARE officials also point to several other positive studies in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.   But there is a growing list of research critical of the program -- which is taught in an estimated 80 percent of U.S. classrooms.   In one study, two sociology professors at the University of Indiana at Kokomo compared two groups of high school seniors -- those who had taken DARE classes in elementary school and those who had not.   The level of drug use was the same, suggesting that DARE had not made an impact in their lives, except in one dubious way. Marijuana use among DARE graduates was actually higher than non-DARE students.   Other studies of DARE, including one sponsored by the Justice Department, also have suggested that DARE lacks effectiveness.   DARE advocates say that many of the unfavorable studies are simply sales tools for competing anti-drug education programs.   "A lot of anti-DARE stuff comes from people that are for the legalization of drugs or competing groups," Hansen said. "The criticisms are not really objective."   One reason DARE might not be effective, Lynam said, is that it focuses on peer pressure and drug use. Many teens, however, are motivated by other factors such as thrill-seeking or simple curiosity, he said.   Also, students typically do not try drugs in the sixth grade, but are more likely to try in high school, Lynam said.   "It's surprising how widespread DARE is, given the lack of hard data suggesting it is effective," Lynam said.   But DARE officials called the University of Kentucky study "misleading" and "unworthy of the scientific community."   It is not a "study of the DARE curriculum offered to elementary schoolchildren today," according to the organization's Web site. "In fact, it is an evaluation of a version used 12 years ago that has been revised, improved and modified several times since 1987."   In any case, Lynam says that drug education shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all approach.   "It may be unrealistic to expect any universal program to be effective," he said. "Not all kids are at risk; maybe we can do better with more intensive and targeted interventions."   Pubdate: August 30, 1999   Copyright 1999, The Salt Lake Tribune DARE We Admit It? Drug War Is A Bust - 8/20/99
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Comment #4 posted by ryan on May 10, 2000 at 14:21:42 PT:
DARE to admit the truth
The fact the uniformed and sometimes armed policemen are teaching kids is absurd. Pre war germany had the children taught by uniformed officers. It also gives children the wrong idea, officers are there to uphold the law, not teach kids. Also over $700 million a year is spent on a program that has no proof of success. DARE also concentrates on the hard drugs, rather than cigarettes and alcohol, which are more easily accessible to the younger children. They also give the idea that smokers, and occasional drinkers are junkies. What's the worst, they ask the children to turn in their parents if the child knows their parents do drugs. Sorry, but children should be taught the truth, and about all aspects of drugs.
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Comment #3 posted by J Christen-Mitchell on August 30, 1999 at 15:38:43 PT:
DARE to tell the children the Truth
Having seen DARE tell my children that Arnold Scwartznegger has to have his blood cleaned weekly because of past Steroid use, and the blank stares from authorities when I questioned them, tells me they're all asleep. The Media, our government, the churches, all sold out.No wonder the Columbines, the Jonesboros.Tell The Children The Truth
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 30, 1999 at 12:58:12 PT:
They Should Say What They Mean!
That is the problem. They say drugs are bad and why because they are. Duh! I always want to know why something is the way it is and kids do too. They should say what they mean. Drugs are bad and if you don't listen to us that drugs will wreck your life then we'll lock you up and wreck your life for not listening to us. That's what they really are saying.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by Dankhank on August 30, 1999 at 11:04:05 PT
Sgt. Hansen says that reinforcement as the student matures is needed. He forgets that the reinforcement already in place is known as "arrest." It's no wonder that Dare doesn't work. Can you imagine telling a kid that s/he shouldn't do drugs 'cause they are bad for you ... by the way ... if you do them ... we will lock you up ...?
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