HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Study Faults Popular Anti-Drug Efforts In Schools
Pubdate: Thu, 06 Sep 2001
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Section: page 3A
Copyright: 2001 The Dallas Morning News


Students Say Substances Are Present On Many Of Their Campuses

WASHINGTON - Sixty-one percent of high-school and 40 percent of 
middle-school students say drugs are used, kept and sold on their campuses, 
according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Center on 
Addiction and Substance Abuse.

The center, a nonprofit institute associated with Columbia University in 
New York, also reported that neither of the two most popular American 
systems for controlling drug abuse by school-age children works well. The 
most popular, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, shows "little 
evidence . . . of any extended impact," the center concluded.

Another frequently used approach ? "zero tolerance" policies that impose 
harsh penalties for even minor drug abuse ? often discourages students from 
turning in substance abusers.

The center says the report is the "first comprehensive analysis of all 
available data on substance use in our schools and among our students." The 
center, headed by Joseph Califano, who was secretary of health, education 
and welfare under President Jimmy Carter, acknowledges that the amount of 
reported drug use among teens nationwide generally has stayed the same or 
declined in recent years, except for some new drugs, such as ecstasy.

But Mr. Califano said drug abuse would decline more sharply if parents 
stopped leaving the problem to school-sponsored programs such as DARE and 
involved themselves more deeply.

"Parents raise hell and refuse to send their kids to classrooms infested 
with asbestos," Mr. Califano said at a news conference. "Yet every day they 
ship their children off to schools riddled with illegal drugs."

The most recent student responses about drug use in schools were based on a 
survey of 1,000 students, taken in telephone interviews from Oct. 20 to 
Nov. 5. The responses have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 
percentage points.

It was part of a broader survey, "Malignant Neglect: Substance Abuse and 
America's Schools," based on 10,000 random telephone interviews nationwide 
over six years with parents, teachers and students, coupled with reviews of 
outside research on the effectiveness of conventional drug abuse-education 

The center's report concluded that "Drug Free School Zone" laws, which make 
punishment extra severe for drug dealing within 1,000 feet of a school, are 
not clearly effective. It cites a Boston University School of Public Health 
study of three Massachusetts cities that found that 80 percent of drug 
cases occurred inside drug-free school zones, although most occurred after 
school hours.

Zero-tolerance policies in schools don't work well, either, the center 
found. The tough penalties discourage students from turning in their 
drug-abusing peers. Those expelled for drug abuse often wind up on the 
streets or in alternative schools where drugs are plentiful.

The center's report cites two widely reported outside studies that give 
DARE, a program police officers teach to fourth-graders through 
middle-schoolers in about 80 percent of U.S. schools, a low success rate. 
One, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 
1999, found no differences 10 years later between students who had and had 
not taken the courses. Another, which appeared in the American Journal of 
Public Health in 1994, challenged the effectiveness of DARE's concept.

The organization's president, Glenn Levant, said that those studies were 
based on old DARE curricula or based their results on small samples. The 
organization has upgraded its curriculum, Mr. Levant said.

DARE also offers a kindergarten through 12th-grade curriculum, but many 
schools don't use it.

"Drug use in young people overall is down since DARE was put in place," Mr. 
Levant said.
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