D.A.R.E. NOT A FUTURE HELP, STUDY CLAIMS
District 102 To Offer New Curriculum To 6th Graders
by Amanda Beeler, Chicago
2 Aug, 1999
Under various acronyms, programs designed to warn young children about the
dangers of drug use abound in local schools. The program of choice in most
districts is Drug Abuse Resistance Education, better known as D.A.R.E.
But a new study published Sunday in the American Psychological
Association's Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, echoes
findings of several other reports that show the program, taught by local
police officers in 80 percent of elementary school districts nationwide,
does not affect a child's decision regarding drug use in the future.
The study tracked half of the 2,000 Lexington, Ky., students who previously
had been surveyed about drug use during high school.
Don Lyman, the University of Kentucky psychology professor who surveyed the
students 10 years after their 6th-grade D.A.R.E. program, said he wasn't
surprised by his findings.
Among the students who responded to Lyman's survey, 23 percent reported
smoking at least a half pack of cigarettes a day over the past year; 30
percent had consumed 40 or more drinks in the past year; 46 percent
reported using marijuana; and 24 percent reported using other drugs in the
Lyman compared those responses to those of people who were never exposed to
the D.A.R.E. program.
"Whether you went through D.A.R.E. or not, you had the same chance of using
drugs," Lyman said.
The new study, which tracks students for an extended period, should serve
as a reminder that the program doesn't have a measurable benefit, he said.
"I think it's awfully hard to touch (drug) use in these kids through these
programs," he said. "It's not worth giving up efforts to try to find
something (that works), but it's worth giving up things we know don't work.
"Doctors used to bleed patients centuries ago as a cure but it didn't work."
In the Chicago area, concerns about the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. led a
committee at Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 in Buffalo Grove to cancel its
5th-grade D.A.R.E. program last year and re-examine its goals.
The new curriculum that will be taught to 6th graders at the end of the
coming school year contains similar concepts to D.A.R.E but is vastly
"It's almost totally a child-centered based learning approach,"
Aptakisic-Tripp Supt. Douglas Parks said of the schools' new CODE program.
"It taps into kids' interests, engages them in planning their own learning
and in doing research that is relevant to their interests."
CODE stands for Community Organized Drug Education. But the name is also a
symbol for the code of conduct each class of students will develop for
themselves during the program.
Jim Yester, a Buffalo Grove police officer and D.A.R.E. officer in the
District 21 schools, helped Aptakisic-Tripp develop a program that was
similar to the teaching style at the school. Students will be responsible
for researching topics and coming up with their own questions and answers
about drug use, violence and self-esteem.
"With D.A.R.E. that was not possible," Yester said. "The police officers
(who teach D.A.R.E.) are not educators; they're trained and can't just
deviate from the curriculum they have."
Ultimately, Yester said he believes programs like D.A.R.E. are worthwhile.
"There are always going to be kids that won't do it and kids that will," he
said. "For the kids sitting on the fence that could go either way, I'd like
to believe that programs like D.A.R.E. or CODE . . . are going to help some
of them come off the fence post and not get involved in drugs and those
D.A.R.E. America President Glenn Levant agrees.
Levant said studies that look at just one portion of the D.A.R.E. program
to judge effectiveness over time are judging an incomplete picture of the
program, which is continually changing and improving.
"The D.A.R.E. program is designed to be implemented in kindergarten through
high school," Levant said. Expecting 20-year-olds to remember lessons
taught to them in 6th grade is not realistic, he added.
Although the D.A.R.E. program, which began in Los Angeles elementary
schools in 1983, expanded within five years to middle schools and high
schools, the vast majority of districts offering the program use the
elementary school program.
Levant said he doesn't mind criticism of the program as long as it leads to
suggestions about improvements.
"We don't claim to be the end-all-be-all or the silver bullet," he said.
"We're part of the big picture which first and foremost relies on the
parents or the head of household."
DISAPPOINTING FINDINGS FORCE A RECONSIDERATION OF D.A.R.E.
Standard-Times (MA) Email:YourView@S-T.com
04 Aug 1999
Yet another study has called into question the effectiveness of the
anti-drug education program D.A.R.E., which is conducted in 80 percent
of the schools in America. Donald R. Lynam and other researchers at
the University of Kentucky tracked 1,000 students in one county who
participated in D.A.R.E. in the sixth grade.
It tracked them down at age 20, or 10 years later, and found that
while D.A.R.E. had made some initial impression about their attitudes
toward drugs, it ultimately had no influence on the decisions they
eventually made. Their rates of drug use were no different from those
of other students.
Dr. Lynam suggested that perhaps D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance
Education) over-emphasizes peer pressure at the expense of other
influences such as curiosity or thrill-seeking )which some D.A.R.E.
critics accuse D.A.R.E. of actually encouraging).
In any event, Dr. Lynam's research supports the decisions of many
cities to drop D.A.R.E. as an ineffective strategy, and move on.
Move on to what? That's the retort from D.A.R.E. supporters, who
rightly point out that there isn't much else out there to replace it.
Of course, that could be because D.A.R.E. has a lock on the market, if
only because it appeals on so many levels.
Eventually, though, it won't pay to pursue a strategy that doesn't
work, even if it doesn't hurt, because if we are going to combat drug
abuse we are going to have to be hard-headed about whether our tools
After years of D.A.R.E., the evidence is accumulating that it doesn't
perform as advertised. That comes as a threat to those who advocate it
and who pour their hearts and their time into it, but a consensus is
building against it.
We criticize other well-intentioned educational methods as being
counterproductive when they don't deliver the goods, such as higher
math or reading scores.
There is no reason that D.A.R.E. should not be subjected to the same
Thinking it works is not, as we are seeing, the same as