Pubdate: Thu, 25 Apr 2002
Source: New London Day (CT)
Copyright: 2002 The Day Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)
Bookmark: (Sharpe archives)
Bookmark: (Drug Policy Alliance)


To the Editor of The Day:

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program's good intentions are no 
substitute for effective drug education. Every independent, 
methodologically sound evaluation of DARE has found the program to be 
either ineffective or counterproductive.

The scare tactics used do more harm than good. Students who realize 
they are being lied to about marijuana often make the mistake of 
assuming that harder drugs are relatively harmless as well. This is a 
recipe for disaster. Drug-education programs need to be reality-based 
or they may backfire when kids are inevitably exposed to drug use 
among their peers.

The importance of parental involvement in reducing adolescent drug 
use cannot be overstated. School-based extracurricular activities 
have also been shown to reduce drug use. They keep kids busy during 
the hours they're most prone to getting into trouble. In order for 
drug education to be effective it has to be credible.

The most popular recreational drug and the one most often associated 
with violent behavior is often overlooked in drug education. That 
drug is alcohol, and it takes far more lives every year than all 
illegal drugs combined. Alcohol may be legal, but it's still the 
number one drug problem.

Robert Sharpe,
Washington, D.C.

The writer is program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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