D.A.R.E. which stands for drug abuse resistance education. It began in 1983 and became a widespread program all across the United States and many other countries around the world. It is an educational program presented to kids from kindergarten to twelfth grade reporting the dos and don’ts of drugs as well as how to avoid becoming involved with these substances. It was built up from the work of law enforcement and school officials. The program consisted of a 17 week program with a police officer teaching numerous classes in schools for each grade level. As the program grew bigger it spread its curriculum to prevention of being involved with gangs, violence, bullying, and internet safety (America). Although the program had a pure intention of benefiting kids, there was major controversy if the program stoped kids from using drugs or a provoking factor which led kids to substance abuse.
The main criticism this program received was it did not deter students away from the use of drugs in the short term nor later in students high school and college career. Various studies were taken to see the effect of the program on students. One of the first studies conducted against the D.A.R.E. program tested the use of marijuana among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. The initial data was in 2008, 5.8% of 8th graders, 13.8% of 10th graders, and 19.4% of 12th graders have been exposed to or had use of marijuana. Within a five year span these percentages increased about 7 percent (Dual Diagnosis). Another study showed a large percent increase involving tobacco use among students. One major study really opened the gates with its findings against the impact of the program. This study took place over an entire decade. It consisted of over 1,000 10 year-olds participating in the D.A.R.E. program. They were given a survey with questions involving self-esteem and drug use. Once the participants turned 20 they were given the same survey (Reaves). The findings were that those who participated in the D.A.R.E. program were no less likely become involved with drugs and alcohol than those who were not involved in the program. A worse finding was poor levels of self-esteem among the D.A.R.E. participants 10 years after being in the program.
Despite the negative feedback, D.A.R.E. still continues to try and improve the lives of kids and try to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. After all the criticism the program worked to improve its curriculum and improve training to those who taught it. Following the studies conducted, by 2013 over 70,000 law enforcement officials and addiction counselors went through 80 hours of training including learning teaching strategies, drug information, and adolescent development, etc. (Dual Diagnosis). One of the first changes was to the elementary and middle school program. The name changed to “Keepin’ it Real” and the “myPlaybook” was added to the high school programs. Keepin’ it Real focuses on the Socio-Emotional Learning Theory (SEL) it promotes healthy development of younger kids through relationships, responsibility, and decision making. The myPlaybook is an interactive website to engage students rather than reading information and answering questions (America).
Based on the numerous studies and criticism against the D.A.R.E. program I still believe there is some benefit to kids from this program. Being involved in it myself in middle school, I find it important to be given the proper information to help against alcohol and drug abuse rather than going further in life not understanding the use and effects of alcohol and drugs. Although, beginning the curriculum at such a young age may not be the best approach. Kids from kindergarten to around 6th or 7th grade might be too young to have these concepts presented to them. Being taught at an older age the students might take the information more seriously and have a further understanding of the concepts. They could then possibly find themselves being able to go against peer pressure. My belief is that as long as you’re given the information that would provide the best benefit then it’s only up to you to actually make a decision when in a situation involving drugs or alcohol. This includes other topics such as sex ed programs. I believe it is needed to educate students on these sensitive topics, but given the proper information at the right age of kids sets them up for success and its how they choose to utilize the information given is in their hands.
“D.A.R.E. America.” D.A.R.E. America, http://www.dare.org/.
“Does the DARE Program Work?” Dual Diagnosis, http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/drug-addiction/dare-program-work/.
Reaves, Jessica. “Just Say No to DARE.” Time, Time Inc., 15 Feb. 2001, content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,99564,00.html.