Pubdate: Wed, 21 May 2003
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2003 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Gerald A. Winer
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Would you buy a costly preventive medicine if little to no scientific
evidence supported its usefulness? Apparently Franklin County Sheriff
James A. Karnes would, as indicated by his support for the Drug Abuse
Resistance Program (letter, May 10).

Karnes pointed out that there has been a decline in drug use among
children in Franklin County since DAREis inception in 1988, and he
doubted that the decline could be a coincidence. But any one of a
number of factors might explain such a decline. Where is Karnesi
control group? Were Franklin County students who were exposed to DARE
compared with similar samples of children given no such program or
alternative ones?

Karnes claimed that "The reality is, DARE does work.ii Unfortunately,
the reality is that many studies have examined the impact of DARE, and
the support they have found for the effectiveness of DARE has been
positively underwhelming. So convincing were the data that some time
ago, the leaders of DARE expressed doubt about their programis
effectiveness. The New York Times, for example, reported in February
2001 that the national leaders of DARE realized that the program o the
one that Karnes reported was successful here in Franklin County o had
essentially failed. That conclusion was supported by reports from the
surgeon general and the National Academy of Sciences. At that time,
the Department of Education ceased its funding of DARE From what I
understand, a new program is being developed and tested. I certainly
hope it is successful. But DARE is extremely costly to operate, and
public servants have an obligation to rely on scientific evidence.

When good data are lacking, we can and should take chances on
drug-prevention programs. But when data show that certain programs are
virtually ineffective, it is time to question their use and think of
better alternatives.


Psychology professor

Ohio State University

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