Pubdate: Thu, 03 Feb 2000
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company
Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: (s) John E. Cornell, Scott P. Schneider & Miriam Struck & Robert


(lte 1)

DARE, which is in most Montgomery County elementary schools, consists of
police officers giving structured presentations over 17 weeks to
fifth-graders, who make anti-drug posters and write anti-drug poems
("Michael smoked pot / Now he's not so hot") and receive T-shirts and bumper
It is probably the most popular and widespread anti-drug program in the
country, but it has been criticized for not demonstrating any real effects
in terms of diminishing drug use among high school students.
Dear Homeroom:
My daughter recently completed DARE in Montgomery County. I was concerned
about the program, discussed it at great length with the school counselor
and concluded that while it was a waste of time, it was not contrary to what
my wife and I teach at home.

If you go to the official DARE Web site, it cites all sorts of
"studies" supporting the program. But if you then read the studies,
for the most part they conclude that the students liked the program
and feel good about it. Whoop-de-do!

John E. Cornell,

(LTE 2)

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
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

(lte 3)

Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago,
recently completed a six-year study of 1,798 students and found that "DARE
had no long-term effects on a wide range of drug use measures"; DARE does
not "prevent drug use at the stage in adolescent development when drugs
become available and are widely used, namely during the high school years";
and DARE may actually be counterproductive.

According to the study, "There is some evidence of a boomerang effect
among suburban kids. That is, suburban students who were DARE
graduates scored higher than suburban students in the control group on
all four major drug-use measures."

Robert Sharpe,
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MAP posted-by: Derek Rea