Pubdate: Mon, 03 Mar 2008
Source: Daily News, The (Newburyport, MA)
Copyright: 2008 Essex County Newspapers, Inc
Author: Carey Lambert


To the editor:

In 2003 the General Accounting Office of the United States concluded 
that the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program, administered 
across the country by local police departments, "found no significant 
differences in illicit drug use between students who received DARE in 
the fifth or sixth grade (the intervention group) and students who 
did not (the control group)."

Now the City Council is considering putting a police officer in the 
high school to combat alcohol and drug abuse. Why? There is no 
evidence to support that a law enforcement officer is going to change 
the views of those high school students currently engaged in drug or 
alcohol use. All the presence of this officer will do is drive those 
students underground.

While there may be a few token arrests made, all this will do is 
provide some headlines for the newspaper and PR for the 
administration and police department. The students arrested, who may 
have been able to be reached with proven education and counseling 
programs, will now find it harder to get into college, receive 
financial aid and have a police record. These for the most part will 
be good kids who have made a bad choice.

Why do we think that these kids, who have all been exposed to the 
DARE program in elementary school, are now going to be swayed by a 
law enforcement program? Is there actually a program or is just the 
presence of an officer supposed to keep kids from using? I challenge 
the City Council and the School Committee, along with the high school 
administration, to research proven programs for drug and alcohol 
abuse prevention in all our schools.

The Departments of Health and Human Services and Education have 
identified programs that show effectiveness in preventing or reducing 
the use of illicit drugs and other substances among youth. I am not 
anti-police by any means, but the money used to fund that officer is 
better used elsewhere if the true goal is to prevent drug and alcohol 
use among the students in Newburyport schools. Even the Reagan 
Administration realized that drug abuse is a public health problem. 
Let's not fund our own little "war on drugs" simply because we lack 
the imagination to look for a real solution.


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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom