HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Program DAREs To Start Over Again
Pubdate: Thu, 15 Feb 2001
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2001 The Denver Post Corp
Contact:  1560 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202
Fax: (303) 820.1502
Author: Kate Zernicke, New York Times
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Anti-Drug Education Has Been Ineffective

Leaders of the nation's most widely used program to discourage drug use
among schoolchildren have acknowledged that their strategy has not had
much effect and say they are developing a new approach to spreading
their message.

The DARE program, whose acronym stands for Drug Abuse Resistance
Education, has grown so rapidly since its founding 18 years ago.  It is
now taught in 75 percent of school districts nationwide and in 54 other

But with criticism of the program's effectiveness increasing, DARE
officials and independent researchers have quietly worked for two years
to develop a new curriculum and plan to introduce it in Washington

DARE has long dismissed criticism of its approach as flawed or the work
of groups that favor decriminalization of drug use. But the body of
research had grown to the point that the organization could no longer
ignore it. In the past two months alone, both the U.S. Surgeon General
and the National Academy of Sciences have issued reports saying that
DARE's approach is ineffective, and several cities, most recently Salt
Lake City, have discontinued the program.

"There's quite a bit we can do to make it better and we realize that,"
said Glenn Levant, president and founding director of DARE America,
based in Los Angeles.

One six-year study by the University of Illinois found that the
program's effects were off by senior year of high school; in fact, it
detected some increased use of drugs by suburban high schoolers who had
taken the program.

A 10-year study by the University of Kentucky found the program had no
effect on students by the time they were 20.

In Colorado, DARE reaches some 150,000 students in 1,000 public and
parochial schools throughout the state.  But that number is dwindling.
In 1999, the Boulder school district dropped DARE from its curriculum.

Still, Coloradans seem to support the program.

In January 2000, DARE raised more than $250,000 at the Starfish Ball
fund-raising dinner.  Notable contributors included "Dealin'" Doug
Moreland, whose Front Range Dodge Dealers Association donated $25,000 to
the cause.  The dealers association will also contribute a percentage
from every car sold through 2002 to DARE.

The new program will work to change the perception of social norms among
students. The idea is based on the belief that traditional prevention
programs may lead students to overestimate how many of their peers are
using drugs. Because teenagers are so open to peer influence, they may
begin using drugs to aspire to that "norm".

The new strategy will also shift the program's focus from fifth grade to
seventh grade, and adds a booster program in ninth grade, because
students in the higher grades are more likely to experiment with drugs. 
Students do more role-playing, with an emphasis on how to make
decisions, and talk about the effect of media and advertising.
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