Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jun 2000
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2000 The Salt Lake Tribune
Contact:  143 S Main, Salt Lake City UT 84111
Fax: (801)257-8950
Author: Kristen Stewart
Bookmark: MAP's link to Utah articles is:


Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has set his sights on the most widely
used drug-education program in America.

Calling DARE "a fraud on the people of America," Anderson says he would
like to see the city's program dismantled.

A great promotional tool for police, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education
program does little to stop teens from using drugs or alcohol, the mayor
said Tuesday, citing studies that have called into question the program's
long-term effectiveness.

"We have frittered away opportunities to put in place in our schools
programs that actually work," he said.

Since the 1999 mayoral campaign, Anderson has pitched his own ideas for
after-school and summer youth programs at city schools, and he has two
full-time staffers dedicated to their development.

Anderson met with Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Darline
Robles and DARE officials June 6 to express his opinion. He is reviewing
the DARE program with the Salt Lake City Police Department and will make a
final decision in a few months.

Salt Lake City has four officers assigned to DARE, each working with about
10 schools. Anderson has threatened to stop funding the city portion of
their salaries. The department also stands to lose $40,000 in grant money
awarded by a private foundation exclusively for the DARE program.

The police department spends about $289,000 annually on the officers'
salaries, vehicles and equipment, according to police spokesman Cory Lyman.

Should Anderson pull the plug on DARE, however, these officers won't lose
their jobs, he said. "We would see them redeployed to other programs,"
which already happens during slow summer months.

"We have felt like DARE has been a successful program. That's why we've
continued to do it," Lyman said.

But like any program, DARE should be periodically reviewed, he said. "We
have given all our information to the mayor and will abide by any decision
he makes.

Launched 17 years ago in Los Angeles, DARE reaches more than 30 million
children in 10,000 American cities and 49 foreign countries. The program
came to Utah public schools in 1987. Today, almost half the state's public
and private schools have implemented the program. In Salt Lake City, the
program is taught in most of the 28 elementary and five middle schools.

In DARE's defense, Tibby Milne, who runs the program for the state, said it
doesn't claim to be a silver bullet. It is part of a coordinated approach
to the problem of drug abuse, and its strength lies in the bonds that
develop between the children and DARE police officers, she said.

"Officers spend 17 weeks with those kids," and their street experiences
often carry more weight than the best advice from parents, teachers or
counselors, Milne said.

Tracey Lash, a mother of two children who went through Indian Hills
Elementary's DARE program in the fifth grade, has mixed feelings about it.

"From my experience, yes, it certainly was worth it. Any discussion that
you have with a child to inform them about drugs and alcohol is going to be
beneficial," but the program's results are hard to quantify, she said.

While in the program, Lash's children practiced saying no in various
scenarios and were given tips on how to avoid drugs and respond to peer
pressure. But to Lash's knowledge, her children never have faced a
real-life situation where the tips came in handy.

"I suspect that the impact is nominal in this area," said Scott Howell, a
parent of a DARE student. Howell recently protested holding a DARE
graduation celebration at a Draper restaurant that serves alcohol.

For children from troubled homes who might not get the kind of moral
support the program provides, DARE is probably effective, Howell said. "But
this community already has strong values and anti-drug behavior and
probably doesn't need that kind of reinforcement."

Still, "it was a nice program," he said. "We'll encourage all of our
children to go through it if it continues."
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MAP posted-by: Eric Ernst