Spotlight Blog 2: DARE

DARE was a remarkably ineffective government program with an outcome far from what was anticipated. Launched in 1983, DARE was operating in around 80% of schools in the United States, starting with elementary students and even working with them throughout high school to reinforce what they have been taught. By 2003, it was determined that DARE had been overall ineffective in keeping youth from using illicit drugs long-term, according to a reports published by the General Accounting Office. The University of Kentucky conducted a decade-long study that showed how the DARE program had absolutely no positive impact on students by the time they were 20 (US).

DARE America, a sponsor of the DARE program as a whole, even admitted publicly that the program was ineffective and needed time to redesign its approach (“DARE”). Despite its failure, the program still runs today. Popular opinion overshadows the evidence, and there has still been a huge amount of government money being funneled into the program. I think the results of DARE demonstrate that no matter how much funding or public attention these kinds of programs receive, they aren’t necessarily going to be effective. Perhaps the most striking finding about the ineffectiveness of DARE is that students who participated in the program actually showed significantly higher rates of experimentation with drugs, according to a study by the University of Illinois (“Reallocation “). For at-risk teen, experimenting with drugs tends to be an common alternative to “just saying no.”

I myself was a DARE graduate among twenty other elementary students in my grade, and over half of those classmates became involved with drugs in high school. Whether or not a student becomes involved with drugs depends more on the environment and mental state they are in than on whether or not they have been properly oriented to the dangers of drugs by an official program. Destructive decisions cannot be prevented by aids like abstinence programs because those decisions are a constant option to young people and cannot be ignored. These programs are ultimately a waste of government funding which could be used to provide resources to those at-risk students, such as effective health and counseling services for schools. If a student has a proper support group and a caring environment they will be less likely to get involved with drug use, with or without a DARE certificate.

 

Sources:

“DARE Admits Failure.” Common Sense for Drug Policy: Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), http://www.csdp.org/news/news/darerevised.htm.

“Reallocation of Dare Funds.” Edge, https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/ganginterv/reallocation.htm

“US: DARE Drug-Resistance Campaign, Called Ineffective, Is Being.” Powered by MAP, http://www.mapinc.org/newscsdp/v01/n277/a07.html.

 

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