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DARE Endangers Our Families

by Diane Barnes

Everyone is rightly concerned about the dangers that drugs pose to our children. However, government officials are cynically using this concern to expand an already enormously expensive bureaucracy called Drug Abuse Resistance Education (or DARE) that is demonstrably ineffective and an ctual danger to our familles.

Study after study has proven what parents have known all along. DARE doesn't work! Many hours are spent indoctrinating children -- valuable time and resources that should be used for academics. Thanks to DARE and other useless 'self-esteem' and other so-called character building programs, American 12th graders now consistently fall below the average in math and science in international tests.

A professor at the University of Illinois, Dennis Rosenbaum, completed a six year study of 1,798 students and found that "suburban students who participated in DARE reported significantly higher rates of drug use...than suburban students who did not participate in the program."

One of the most comprehensive studies from the University of Kentucky tracks over 1000 midwestern students for 10 years who participated in DARE i the 6th grade. (American Psychological Association Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology August, 1999.) The research showed that there is no difference between those who received the DARE training and those who did not in their use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. Ironically, the only demonstrable difference was that those who participated in the DARE program had lower levels of self-esteem.

The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) was hired by the Justice Department to do a statistical analysis of all DARE research. RTI analyzed eight studies involving 9,500 children. Their report says that DARE has a "limited to essentially nonexistent effect" on drug use.

The Justice Department refused to publish the report.

World renowned psychologists Bill Coulson, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who developed the theories upon which DARE was founded, have since admitted that their theories were '"off-base" and that the program is "rooted in trash psychology" (Dec 4,1998 Bould Weekly).

Official response to statistical evidence that their DARE program doesn't work is to dismiss the scientific evidence, attack the evaluations and rely instead on anecdotes.

The program may be popular, but is that any measure of its efficacy?

The director of DARE America recommends that the solution is to spend even more money on it. Of course, how many directors have ever suggested that their programs and budgets (along with their own jobs) are not achieving the desired results and should be eliminated?

So, if the DARE program isn't deterring kids from using drugs, what is it doing?

The one thing DARE is undeniably good at is in fact raising money.

News stories have reported that the federal government allocates about $2 billion every year to youth drug and violence prevention. The total cost -- including all state, local and private funding -- has been estimated at $8 billion.

With all of that money being spent it would be bad enough if this program were merely useless. However, national reports are much more ominous.

DARE is also teaching kids to spy on parents and friends and encouraging them to become government informants.

Children are asked to submit written questions to the DARE officer such is: "How come my dad smokes pot every night after I go to bed?"

If you have ever seen a DARE work book (which you probably haven't since children are specifically told not to bring it home), you might be surprised at the lesson called "The Three R's: Recognize, Resist, Report" which encourages children to become snitches and tell friends, teachers or the police if they find drugs at home.

DARE officials have denied that the program is set up to bust parents, but numerous incidents of this very kind have been documented in Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Maryland and Maine.

If you ask the kids about DARE most of them will tell you it's boring or an excuse to get out of class. One student is quoted as observing that, ironically, "All the pot-heads at school have DARE bumper stickers on their cars."

Kids are not stupid. And any program that implies that they are is bound to have severe credibility problems.

The good news is school districts and police departments in California, Colorado, and Texas are dumping the program. We should do the same in Michigan. Parents must DARE their local district to reject the hype associated with this putative "drug education program." We should DARE to replace it with math or science, or other academic classwork -- the kind of education we expect our schools to provide. The kind of education they have so tragically neglected in their obsession with teaching "Good Citizenship."

Leave teaching moral values to parents. No government program can replace parental influence and supervision. And both the attempt and the consequences are antithetical to our American system of personal freedom and responsibility.

Ms Barnes may be reached at dbarnes98@aol.com

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