Pubdate: Fri, 10 Nov 2000
Source: Tribune Review (PA)
Copyright: 2000 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Merkin


DARE's message is delivered by police officers, not teachers. Police 
officers are quasi-military personnel and have no training as professional 

Teachers encourage free discussion and disagreement. Disagreeing with a 
DARE police officer about any aspect of drugs, drug laws or policies is the 
fast track to a police investigation of the student and the student's family.

What's wrong with the message that many drug laws suck, or have shamefully 
racist consequences? But a student would be a fool to say it in a 
junior-high DARE class.

Of course it's thrilling to see junior high school students echoing 
photocopied bumper-stickers about drugs, alcohol, authority and police. 
What choice do they have under the gun-toting "peer pressure" in a police 
DARE class?

One lesson a healthy community should recall from Nazi Germany and the Cold 
War is the aggressive mass-brainwashing of children police states use to 
insure conformity and obedience. Schools are supposed to promote and 
encourage diversity of thought, not a uniform creed introduced by police.

The bottom line - literally - is that DARE has never been able to 
demonstrate that it accomplishes the drug-use reduction it promises; some 
studies indicate it has quite the opposite effect.

It's feel-good, high-pressure, law-and-order, conformist classroom candy 
that principals can point to as a tough anti-drug program. But it isn't 
school, it's not the American tradition, and it doesn't work.

Robert Merkin, Northampton, Mass.
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