Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jun 2009
Source: Oak Bay News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Oak Bay News
Author: Kimberley McEwan


Re: DARE program in Oak Bay schools (Our View, May 22)

Investment in efforts to support and protect youth are some of the 
most important a community can make. The greatest risk of harm during 
the teen years is that of injury or death resulting from the misuse 
of alcohol and other drugs.

While it is laudable that the Oak Bay police recognize this as a 
priority, the public should be aware that the DARE program, currently 
being delivered by the police in local schools, has been shown, 
through several long-term evaluation studies, to be ineffective as a 
substance misuse prevention program. As a result, DARE, which 
represents an abstinence-based approach, has been dropped by many 
jurisdictions in the U.K., U.S. and Canada.

Surveys reveal that one-third of adolescents consume hazardous levels 
of alcohol at least once a month. Evidence-based interventions 
recommended by the UVic-based Centre for Addiction Research of B.C. 
(CARBC) focus on harm reduction as a key strategy to protect the 
health and safety of youth during experimentation and use of alcohol 
and drugs in the teen years. Harm reduction approaches recognize that 
substance use will occur but strive to limit opportunities for 
high-risk behaviour and to minimize the harms from drinking and drug 
use to individuals and society.

We have limited opportunities and resources for influencing youth. We 
cannot afford to ignore evidence about what works and what doesn't in 
terms of promoting their health and safety. The information is there. 
Let's encourage the police to review the evidence before investing in 
specific programs.

Kimberley McEwan, PhD

Oak Bay
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