Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2000
Date: 09/06/2000
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Author: Dr. Gene Tinelli
Note: Headline by MAP editor.

As another school year begins, it's time for reassessment of our
D.A.R.E. programs. The mission of these expensive grade school
programs is to lower drug use.

In the most recent annual American youth survey, teenage drug use is
down 13% but the percentage of eighth-graders who used marijuana,
cocaine and LSD tripled between 1991 and 1997. Also, drug use by young
adults in the 18-25 years old category, a group that will continue to
use drugs at a relatively high rate as they age, has increased
markedly in the past two years.

A 1999 study by the California legislative analyst's office "concluded
that D.A.R.E. didn't keep children from using drugs. In fact, it found
that suburban kids who took D.A.R.E. were more likely than others to
drink, smoke and take drugs."

A 1999 University of Kentucky study, funded by the National Institutes
of Health, examined the effect of D.A.R.E. on students' behavior over
the subsequent 10 years. The report concluded: "Our results are
consistent in documenting the absence of beneficial effects associated
with the D.A.R.E. program. This was true whether the outcome consisted
of actual drug use or merely attitudes toward drug use." One Kentucky
researcher observed: "The only difference was that those who received
D.A.R.E. reported slightly lower levels of self-esteem at age 20."

These studies add to the many other studies, including a major U.S.
Justice Department study, that all found the D.A.R.E. program does not
significantly reduce drug use and takes the place of other, more
beneficial drug-use curricula.

Even worse for D.A.R.E. officials and proponents, D.A.R.E. also suffered a
stunning defeat in April that could cripple its ability to muzzle
criticism. Federal Judge Virginia Phillips, in a case involving D.A.R.E.
America's libel suit against Rolling Stone magazine, ruled there was
"substantial truth" to the charges that D.A.R.E. had sought to "suppress
scientific research" critical of D.A.R.E. and "attempted to silence
researchers at the Research Triangle Institute, editors at the American
Journal of Public Health, and producers at 'Dateline: NBC.' " Exactly what
is the D.A.R.E. program trying to lower? Freedom of speech and inquiry?
What message does that send our children?

Many diverse American cities, from populous Seattle to neighboring
Rochester, have dropped their D.A.R.E. programs. The most recent city
to dump the program was conservative Salt Lake City, Utah. Its mayor,
Rocky Anderson, denounced D.A.R.E. as "a fraud on the people of
America . . . For far too long, drug-prevention policies have been
driven by mindless adherence to a wasteful, ineffective, feel-good
program. D.A.R.E. has been a huge public-relations success but a
failure at accomplishing the goal of long-term drug-abuse

Well said Mayor Anderson. It's about time central New York listened
and dared to dump its own D.A.R.E. programs.

Gene Tinelli, M.D., ReconsiDer, Forum on Drug Policy,