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DARE: An Opponent's View

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 46 Issue: 4 Dated: April 1998 Pages: 48-50
J W Hough
Date Published
3 pages
This article questions the effectiveness of the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) approach to juvenile drug abuse prevention and suggests alternatives.
The traditional DARE program relies on the DARE police officer as an "expert." The core DARE curriculum uses frequent lectures and question-and-answer formats. Statistical studies suggest that this program structure is misdirected. Interactive teaching, with student dialog and cooperative or participatory learning with the teacher as a facilitator or catalyst to create discussion or interaction among the students is far more effective. Further, most long-term evaluations of drug use prevention programs in general show that curriculum effects deteriorate rather than strengthen over time. Within the spectrum of drug use prevention programs, those programs that emphasize knowledge and information are generally not as effective in preventing drug use among youth as programs that build social influence and social skills. Increasing a student's knowledge or information about drugs is unlikely to result in positive changes in attitude or behavior. DARE is, or should be, at a crossroads. The program should first be stripped of its politically untouchable shield and then subjected to serious objective analysis. If the political decision is made to retain DARE, the program should be expanded to include grades K-12 and restructured to become integrated into more comprehensive preventive strategies that are implemented over a longer time frame. Further, the role of the police officer within the school should be expanded to include a more multifaceted involvement in school life and student assistance programs.