Is DARE a “good” drug prevention program?
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education
(DARE) program started in 1983, when the Los Angeles Los Angeles Police
Department and the
[pick up CJ5e, Table 6.4, p. 165]
Officers are taught how to change their “hardened street ways” into “caring teaching skills.” Officer Harreld D. Webster, a DARE mentor, puts it this way: “We assist them to remove the macho image and become teachers.” Webster said DARE, once ridiculed by officers as “kiddie cops,” has gained respect. (Rheinhold 1989)
The results of evaluations are mixed.
Dennis P. Rosenbaum and his colleagues (1994, 1-31) conducted an extensive, thorough, and methodologically sound study of DARE. They established and carried out a longitudinal, randomized experiment to estimate the effects of DARE on the attitudes, beliefs, and drug use of students in the year following exposure to the program. They found no statistically significant overall effect on drug use, and few effects on attitudes or beliefs about drugs. There was one encouraging result—girls who went through DARE were twice as likely as girls without DARE to quit drinking. But DARE had an opposite effect on boys who went through DARE—they were less likely to stop drinking than boys who didn’t.
Some kids in DARE report their parents’ drug use to the police. Should they? Some (by no means all) officers encourage kids to do so. When the officers find out parents are drug users they arrest them. Is this right?
Police Chief James Gilway
teaches a DARE class at
The next day, Chief Gilway and two state drug agents interviewed
Inside the house, police confiscated
the marijuana plants. At full height, the plants could’ve produced one ounce of
smokeable marijuana. Officers arrested
Still troubled a year later,
“This is the stuff of Orwellian fiction,” said Gary Peterson, head of Parents Against DARE. “This is Big Brother putting spies in our homes.” Parents Against DARE, consisting of about 20 families, questions whether the police can teach objectively about drugs. Although the parents oppose drug use by their children, some of them smoke marijuana. The parents wonder if DARE is turning their children against them.
Law enforcement officers say kids
hardly ever rat on their parents. “There are skeptics out there who think this
is a program to spy on families. That’s simply not true. The main purpose is to
curb drug use,” said Captain Patrick Froehle,
commanding officer for the Los Angeles Police Department DARE division.
Furthermore, police insist they’d be shirking their duty not to act on
the information because kids would be living with parents who might be
neglecting or abusing them. According to Captain Froehle
In such environments, there are usually no morals, values or training for the child. My personal opinion is that an arrest is the best thing that could ever happen to that parent. Marijuana could lead to harder drugs, which, in turn, could ultimately lead to death. What may turn out to be negative for the parent is positive for society.
Also, students aren’t allowed to mention names in DARE classes. According to police, what happens after class between the officer and the kids is no different from what happens in other crimes. But some officers have qualms about using the information. “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Sometimes, I almost feel like a traitor,” says Officer Anne Corcoran, a DARE teacher for the Boston Police Department. “I look into the children’s eyes and I see them saying, ‘How dare you? I confided in you and you let me down.’”
No one knows how many students tell on
their parents. The police don’t collect the numbers, and they don’t volunteer
to hand over information they have. Parents who are charged usually want to
avoid publicity. In one case, a DARE student turned in her stepfather, a
professor at a small college in
The question became a matter of public
1. Summarize the finding on the effectiveness of DARE. On the basis of the research would you recommend continuing DARE? Dropping DARE? More research? Defend your answer.