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Pubdate: Sun, 04 Dec 2005
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)
Bookmark: (Youth)


D.A.R.E. is under fire, or more correctly, still under fire.

Nearly from the time the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was 
launched in Los Angeles, the program had its detractors.

Local D.A.R.E. coordinator, Const. Frank McConnell, is a firm 
believer in the program and proud that it is now being taught in 
every elementary school in the Central Okanaagan school district. The 
growth of the program, since it began in 1983, is noteworthy.

"Now it's all over the world," said McConnell.

In fact, world wide, the D.A.R.E. program is taught to 36 million 
students in 54 countries each year.

D.A.R.E. was started 22 years ago by then Los Angeles Police Chief 
Daryl Gates, whose own child was a habitual drug user.

By 1993, D.A.R.E. had become the U.S.'s number one drug education 
program and had reached five million students in 60 per cent of the 
school districts across America. But with the program's growth came criticism.

Conducting a Google search on D.A.R.E. will lead to as many websites 
against the program as there are for it.

According to a USA Today article from Oct.11, 2003, the explosive 
growth of D.A.R.E. did not have everyone convinced it was a worthwhile program.

"A 1990 study funded by the Canadian government found D.A.R.E. had no 
significant effect on the students' use of any of the substances 
measured," noted the newspaper. Tobacco, beer, marijuana, acid, 
heroin, cocaine and other substances were part of the tracking.

In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General placed D.A.R.E. under the category 
of ineffective programs and according to Dr. Gilbert Botvin of 
Cornell Medical Center said, it is "well established that D.A.R.E. 
doesn't work."

On the flipside, a study conducted in 2001 in West Vancouver schools 
seems to suggest that overall, teachers, police, parents and students 
agree that D.A.R.E. is a good program.

The study found that 72 per cent of students believed the information 
taught was valid and up-to-date while 88 per cent of students 
believed D.A.R.E. did prepare elementary students to resist drugs in 
the future.

In addition, 82 to 89 per cent of students felt the program had 
increased their awareness of the dangers of drug use.

"I'm a firm believer in it," said McConnell.

"Some of the kids we originally taught are now in Grade 12. We've 
talked to some of them and they've stayed drug, alcohol and cigarette-free."

Many sites involved in the web-backlash against D.A.R.E. say the 
money would be better spent on more police officers and enforcement 
but McConnell would tend not to agree.

"Enforcement isn't the only answer," said McConnell.

Parents have told the program coordinator that, after their kids have 
taken the D.A.R.E. course, they are much more open in talking about 
drugs, alcohol and tobacco use.

"I know it's a phenomenal program," said Const. Reg Lawrence, who has 
been teaching D.A.R.E to Central Okanagan students for five years.

"I've given these guys ammunition that they can use for the rest of 
their lives."
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