Drug Fight Used in County Schools Under Fire 

Drug Fight Used in County Schools Under Fire 
Posted by FoM on March 05, 2001 at 11:27:39 PT
By Maria Brosnan Liebel, The Press Democrat
Source: Press Democrat
 Between drags on a cigarette, a Petaluma High sophomore fondly recalled playing soccer with the police officer who taught his fifth-grade class about drugs.But the teen, who requested anonymity, said common sense and conversations with his marijuana-growing dad kept him from trying anything harder than pot."I think it's better coming from parents," he said.
DARE -- Drug Abuse Resistance Education -- is the most widely used anti-drug program in U.S. schools, its trademark red-and-black logo a nearly universal symbol for "Just Say No."The 18-year-old program is used in about 30 schools in Sonoma County.Despite its popularity, DARE is coming under increasing fire. Recent academic studies and government reports show it has marginal, if any, long-term effects on drug use.The federal Department of Education told school districts they can only use federal money for anti-drug programs that have proven successful.In California, the state Department of Education is telling school districts not to spend state or federal substance abuse prevention dollars on DARE because it is ineffective.For many years, DARE organizers dismissed criticism of the program as flawed or sponsored by groups in favor of decriminalizing drug use.Now, however, it is trying a new approach.DARE America Inc. is overhauling its program and planning to test a new curriculum in six cities and their suburbs over the next five years."Just Say No hasn't worked," said Bill Alden, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who serves as deputy director of DARE America."It's not going to work," he said. "It's too simplistic for kids today."In Petaluma, which has used DARE longer than any other Sonoma County school district, other programs will be considered for drug education next year."I have informed the board we would like to continue to participate in the program for one more academic year," Superintendent Carl Wong said.The school district pays the Police Department to teach the classes. It was billed $15,600 this year.Petaluma has used the DARE program for 13 years. Rohnert Park and Windsor police and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department also have taught DARE classes for four to six years.Thousands of children have graduated from the DARE elementary school program in Sonoma County, but it's unclear what effect that has had on drug use.Mirroring national data, A Healthy Kids survey last year in Sonoma County found 50 percent of seventh, ninth and 11th graders who voluntarily responded to the questionnaire had smoked marijuana and 72 percent said they had a full drink of alcohol.A 1999 report by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Sonoma County report said 27 percent of Sonoma County high school students smoke cigarettes -- up from 11 percent in 1990.DARE, founded by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983, placed officers in classrooms to warn students about drugs, help build their self-esteem and provide them ways to say "No."In revising its curriculum, DARE America is drawing on conclusions made by researchers that less lecturing and more interactive, hands-on activities may have better results."The officer, instead of acting as an instructor, they act as a guide," Alden explained.San Francisco may be one of the cities where the new curriculum will be tested but it's unknown when it will available in Sonoma County.Officers teaching DARE classes staunchly support the program, but they are eager to see the changes."I believe it's successful. But to be as successful as it can be, it needs to be continued to high school and junior high school," said Terry Campbell, a Petaluma officer who has taught DARE classes for more than a decade.Some experts say a 17-week program for fifth or sixth graders isn't enough to keep youngsters from experimenting with drugs."To achieve effective prevention with young people, we need to do a comprehensive effort," said Barbara Graves, director of prevention and planning at Sonoma County Health Services. "It's not just teaching kids, but working with parents in supporting kids in making healthy choices."Lynn Garric, safe schools manager at the county Office of Education, added that the message needs to be delivered in a variety of ways to make the greatest impact on the most students."Some students will be motivated by the legal consequences. Other students will be more motivated on short-term effects on health. Someone else may be motivated by the cost of cigarettes," she said.One of the alternate programs Petaluma City Schools is reviewing has marijuana workshops for parents and the community in addition to students, said Tammy Cotter, substance abuse prevention specialist for both Petaluma and Sonoma State University.Police cite individual examples of success as evidence of the program's success. But they concede the curriculum can be improved."Without continued follow-up messages throughout junior high and high school, we're kind of dooming this program to failure," Petaluma Police Chief Pat Parks said.DARE America offers 10-week programs for seventh and ninth graders but with the exception of St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School, none of Sonoma County's schools use DARE in secondary school.Police chiefs in cities that don't teach DARE classes said the program is too expensive. Exact numbers were unavailable, but cities that use the program spend tens of thousands of dollars in materials and officer time annually.Santa Rosa Police Chief Mike Dunbaugh said it would cost more than $1 million to take officers off the streets and put them in classrooms. But even if the city provided the funds, he said he prefers using drug education specialists to teach the lessons."I don't think it's necessarily the occupation of the person who gives the message," Dunbaugh said. "It's the connection that person makes with the listener."News Researcher Michele Van Hoeck contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Maria Brosnan Liebel at 762-7297 or e-mail: mliebel pressdemocrat.comNote: Faulted by state, federal education offices, national DARE program seeks overhaul. Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)Author: Maria Brosnan Liebel, The Press Democrat Published: March 5, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Press Democrat Address: Letters Editor, P. O. Box 569, Santa Rosa CA 95402 Fax: (707) 521-5305 Contact: letters Website: Forum: Feedback: DARE Archives
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on March 05, 2001 at 13:55:56 PT
you are extremely right on my friend!....sincerely....dddd
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Comment #2 posted by sm247 on March 05, 2001 at 13:42:33 PT
Think pink!
I think if you want kids to stay away from drugs and cigarettes give them something EXITING to do after school instead of hanging around uptown. Baseball Football and Basketball don't get it! What we need and I even thought so as a teenager (in my mid-30's now) is an inter school competition for extreme sports (bmx,rollerblading,skateboarding,downhill luge even gokarts*) these kids today need ADRENALINE pure and natural another thing that schools are missing is GUITAR LESSONS (making sure too that any kid who can't afford a guitar has a loaner).Know you know what is missing now FIX IT.Take all the D.A.R.E. money and put it where your mouth is.This is what was missing in my town as a youth this is part of WHY kids ended up doing "drugs". * I realize the cost of operating and maintaining go-karts SO use a downhill track and NO motor Nothing but gravity and brakes! As a parent I would sign a disclaimer releasing my school of liability for my child participating in an Extreme sport I am sure others would too.So I don't want to hear this "WE can't accept the liability B.S. " you are accepting the liability now SO by not providing up to date SPORTS PROGRAMS kids are out doing drugs lookin for their "big half pipe". HMMM ya your liable and your at Fault can you say SUE ???
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Comment #1 posted by aocp on March 05, 2001 at 12:33:15 PT:
Now this is funny
"Some students will be motivated by the legal consequences.Whatever. Nobody i've ever talked to has stated legal consequences as a reason for not using psychoactive substances, legal or not. I believe the research backs me up on this, but i admit i don't have anything on-hand.Other students will be more motivated on short-term effects on health.Uh-huh. I'm a teacher and i can tell you from day-to-day experience that kids have less than no fear of "short term health effects". They think they'll live forever, just like you and i did when we were that age. What naive BS.Someone else may be motivated by the cost of cigarettes," she said.Now, that's amusing. What we have here is someone that either (a) does not understand the nature of black markets, or (b) willfully ignores obvious parellels to the same. IOW, increasing the cost of tobacco as some breakthrough to decrease smoking (esp. in the young) is only going to (a) offer a lucrative market to criminals and (b) make the forbidden fruit more attractive to those they are ostentially trying to save. Morons, dips***s and puritans, oh my!
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