Pubdate: Tue, 11 Feb 2003
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2003 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Cheryl Wetzstein
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


The nation's most widely used substance-abuse prevention program, Drug Abuse
Resistance Education (DARE), has no effect on seventh-graders, although an
enhanced version of the program shows promise for boys, according to a study
released yesterday. Top Stories

Researchers found "no significant differences" in illegal drug usage or
violence between DARE students and middle schoolers who didn't participate
in the program. It is taught by police officers in 80 percent of the
country's school districts.

But students enrolled in a new DARE program, called DARE Plus, were found to
be less likely to use alcohol, tobacco or drugs than nonparticipants and
were less likely to use tobacco or be involved in violence than their DARE
counterparts, said the study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
Medicine this week.

DARE Plus has four sessions on peer pressure and the media, and involves
parents and community leaders. Founded in 1983, DARE stresses personal
responsibility and avoidance of substance abuse and violence, and can be
taught in any grade, as well as after school.

This is the second study in recent weeks to criticize the popular anti-drug
program: In January, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported to Sen.
Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, about six long-term evaluations of the
DARE elementary school curriculum.

There were "no significant differences" in drug use between fifth- and
sixth-graders who took DARE classes and those who didn't, the GAO said.

DARE has many funding sources, though a major source is allocations under
the Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities

The new study on DARE involved 6,237 seventh-graders in 24 schools, said
lead author Cheryl L. Perry, a professor at the University of Minnesota in
Minneapolis. It was conducted under a grant from the National Institute on
Drug Abuse.

Eight of the schools used the 10-session DARE curriculum, while eight
schools used the new DARE Plus curriculum. The remaining eight schools had
no drug-prevention programs and served as a control group.

All students were questioned about their involvement with tobacco, alcohol,
marijuana and violence at the beginning of seventh grade in 1999 and the end
of eighth grade in 2001.

Among girls, DARE Plus students were less likely to report being drunk
compared with girls in schools using DARE, but there were no other
differences among girls in various programs.

The researchers concluded that DARE Plus was an effective intervention "for
reducing increases in alcohol, tobacco and multidrug use, and victimization
among adolescent boys," and underscored the importance of "broadening"
prevention programs to include parents, peers and other community members.

A spokesman for DARE America could not be reached. Its Web site says it has
30 independent studies showing that DARE works. It also is developing
science-based curricula for ninth-graders with a $14 million grant from the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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