Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jan 2006
Source: Journal Times, The (Racine, WI)
Copyright: 2006 The Journal Times
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Mike Moore's Dec. 26 column offered excellent advice on preventing 
adolescent drug use.

The importance of parental involvement in reducing drug use cannot be 
overstated. School-based extracurricular activities also have been 
shown to reduce use. They keep kids busy during the hours they're 
most likely to get into trouble.

In order for drug prevention efforts to effectively reduce harm, they 
must be reality-based. The most popular drug and the one most closely 
associated with violent behavior is often overlooked by parents. That 
drug is alcohol, and it takes far more lives each year than all 
illegal drugs combined. Alcohol may be legal, but it's still the No. 
1 drug problem.

For decades, school-based drug prevention efforts have been dominated 
by sensationalist programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Good 
intentions are no substitute for effective drug education. 
Independent evaluations of D.A.R.E. have found the program to be 
either ineffective or counterproductive.

D.A.R.E's scare tactics do more harm than good. Students who realize 
they've been lied to about marijuana may make the mistake of assuming 
that harder drugs like meth are relatively harmless as well. This is 
a recipe for disaster. Drug education programs must be reality-based 
or they may backfire when kids are inevitably exposed to drug use 
among their peers.

The following U.S. Government Accounting Office report confirms my 
claims regarding DARE:

Robert Sharpe, MPA
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
P.O. Box 59181
Washington, DC 20012
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman