Readers Doubt Usefulness of DARE Program

Readers Doubt Usefulness of DARE Program
Posted by FoM on February 03, 2000 at 05:56:16 PT
By Karin Chenoweth
Source: Washington Post
This is one of those weeks when I just open up the mailbag. One of the surprises--to me--is how much response the letter questioning the effectiveness and appropriateness of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (Jan. 20) generated.DARE, which is in most Montgomery County elementary schools, consists of police officers giving structured presentations over 17 weeks to fifth-graders, who make anti-drug posters and write anti-drug poems ("Michael smoked pot / Now he's not so hot") and receive T-shirts and bumper stickers.
It is probably the most popular and widespread anti-drug program in the country, but it has been criticized for not demonstrating any real effects in terms of diminishing drug use among high school students.Dear Homeroom:My daughter recently completed DARE in Montgomery County. I was concerned about the program, discussed it at great length with the school counselor and concluded that while it was a waste of time, it was not contrary to what my wife and I teach at home.If you go to the official DARE Web site, it cites all sorts of "studies" supporting the program. But if you then read the studies, for the most part they conclude that the students liked the program and feel good about it.Whoop-de-do!John E. CornellGaithersburgDear Homeroom:We were surprised to see in your article on the DARE programs that you claimed that "whether the program is effective or age-appropriate is really unknown." In fact, there have been a number of studies of the DARE curriculum, and they have found it to have little effect, especially measured years later. Given the evidence that DARE doesn't work, the question remains: Why do we continue to cling to it and fund it?The answer probably has to do with it being politically popular to teach young children not to use drugs (who could be against that?), that schools like to have officers coming into them for community purposes and that there is plenty of money for it.Our own experience with DARE, with both our daughters, raised a lot of concern for us and made us wonder about the value and the basis on which educational programming decisions are made.Both children experienced anxiety, fears and nightmares from the graphic and often-gruesome stories told in the DARE sessions, some of which are still recounted. Both missed valuable instruction time in their academic classes. Our youngest, now 12, missed five weeks of her accelerated math class. When we questioned the value and educational relevance, we were told that DARE's ineffectiveness was known. Nevertheless, the DARE program continued because of the belief that it encourages positive relationships with the police.Having attended two DARE graduations, we think this belief is questionable. Our children developed positive opinions of the police through their participation with the safety patrol. The DARE experience left them and us cold.The question remains: Is the hope that children are impressed with the police officers enough of a reason to continue implementing an ineffective program that takes away precious instructional time? We remain skeptical.Scott P. SchneiderMiriam StruckSilver SpringDear Homeroom:Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recently completed a six-year study of 1,798 students and found that "DARE had no long-term effects on a wide range of drug use measures"; DARE does not "prevent drug use at the stage in adolescent development when drugs become available and are widely used, namely during the high school years"; and DARE may actually be counterproductive.According to the study, "There is some evidence of a boomerang effect among suburban kids. That is, suburban students who were DARE graduates scored higher than suburban students in the control group on all four major drug-use measures."Robert SharpeWashingtonDear Homeroom:Your article on DARE was both informative and interesting until the final sentence: "Or be low-tech and go to the library."Libraries today offer a wide range of print and electronic resources, including the Internet as well as a range of other free-of-charge and fee-based databases.In addition, libraries are staffed with information professionals who are well versed in the art of electronic searching and are experienced in the nuances of knowing when it is faster and cheaper to simply go to the print version of a document or use an electronic source. Parents reading your articles should be encouraged to use the library and its resources to their advantage, especially since many do not have their own Internet access.Cynthia GerechtAshtonThursday, February 3, 2000; Page M01  Copyright 2000 The Washington Post CompanyRelated Articles:Study Questions Effectiveness Of DARE - 8/30/99 News DARE Related Articles:
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Comment #1 posted by Paula on February 04, 2000 at 11:49:42 PT
My child is grown and has a child of his own now, but I doknow quite abit about the DARE Program. You see my brothergives to the DARE program in every town he lives in. Now youare thinking what a nice guy right? WRONG! The man does itbecause he conceals weapons in his home, is a alcoholic andhas found by putting money into the DARE program the policeleave him alone. This I have seen first hand while on a dayvisit to his home. By 10am he was extremely drunk while sitting on the porch talking to me his phone rang it was theSheriffs office asking if he could come down there. Well, in his condition I DROVE but he had NO PROBLEM walking intothe police office and talking and accepting some trinkets like a ball cap, etc. concerning DARE. That officer knew hewas drunk and as we left he insisted on driving home since it was his car he drove home waving goodbye to the officerhe had just spoke to.. DARE DOES NOT WORK, THE POLICE DEPTS.JUST WANT THE FUNDING AND AS I OBSERVED AS LONG AS THEY GETIT THE GIVER CAN DO WHAT HE WANTS.. Which is more importantGUNS,AMMO and the means to make your own, driving extremelydrunk and getting away with it just cause he tosses money atthe DARE program?? I say they should go after my brother not the kids.. This is a TRUE STORY.. GIVE UP IT DOESN'TWORK!!! And I am now a advid believer that money to the police will allow you to do anything as long as your money keeps coming in!! BAD, BAD, BAD!!! 
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