Pubdate: Thu, 03 Feb 2000
Date: 02/03/2000
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Author: Scott P. Schneider & Miriam Struck

We were surprised to see in your article on the DARE programs that you
claimed that "whether the program is effective or age-appropriate is
really unknown." In fact, there have been a number of studies of the
DARE curriculum, and they have found it to have little effect,
especially measured years later.

Given the evidence that DARE doesn't work, the question remains: Why
do we continue to cling to it and fund it? The answer probably has to
do with it being politically popular to teach young children not to
use drugs (who could be against that?), that schools like to have
officers coming into them for community purposes and that there is
plenty of money for it.

Our own experience with DARE, with both our daughters, raised a lot
of concern for us and made us wonder about the value and the basis on
which educational programming decisions are made.

Both children experienced anxiety, fears and nightmares from the
graphic and often-gruesome stories told in the DARE sessions, some of
which are still recounted. Both missed valuable instruction time in
their academic classes. Our youngest, now 12, missed five weeks of her
accelerated math class.

When we questioned the value and educational relevance, we were told
that DARE's ineffectiveness was known.

Nevertheless, the DARE program continued because of the belief that it
encourages positive relationships with the police. Having attended two
DARE graduations, we think this belief is questionable. Our children
developed positive opinions of the police through their participation
with the safety patrol.

The DARE experience left them and us cold. The question remains: Is
the hope that children are impressed with the police officers enough
of a reason to continue implementing an ineffective program that takes
away precious instructional time? We remain skeptical.

Scott P. Schneider & Miriam Struck,
Silver Spring