Pubdate: Tue, 03 Dec 2002
Source: Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
Copyright: 2002 Poughkeepsie Journal
Author: Michael T. Walsh


This letter is in response to that written by Officer Robert Benson, the 
Hyde Park Police Department's DARE officer. Officer Benson is correct when 
he states that no drug prevention program is 100 percent effective. But he 
then asked why bash a program that has had 20 years in place that works?

I don't for one second doubt the sincere dedication with which these fine 
officers approach their assignments, but every independent, 
methodologically sound evaluation of DARE has found the program either 
ineffectual or counterproductive.

In 1999, in a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical 
Psychology, researchers evaluating 1,002 students 10 years after they were 
exposed to DARE found few differences in terms of actual drug use, drug 
attitudes or self-esteem. DARE was the target of criticism in 2001 when a 
U.S. surgeon general's report said the program's popularity persists 
despite numerous well-designed evaluations and meta-analyses that 
consistently show few or no deterrent effects on substance use.

It seems DARE, for all its good intentions, has been a terrific waste of 
taxpayer and corporate sponsor money. It's clear the root of the problem 
lies in the prohibited status of drugs in our society and as adults it is 
up to us to address and resolve this vital social issue. As things stand, 
all the best efforts of all our educators and law enforcement personnel are 
doing little to save people young and old from making bad choices.

Michael T. Walsh

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