Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is the most widely used drug education program targeted towards elementary school children in the United States. Since 1980’s over a million children across the United States have been introduced to the DARE program. The program began implementing their curriculum into school systems with the goal of educating children about the negatives aspects of drugs and gangs. The principal goal for this program is to deter students from the hard life of using drugs and gangs and help steer them on the right path.
Even though the DARE programs has positive outcome other than deterring children from gangs and drugs. The program is considered ineffective and does not deter children from drugs and gangs. What is the Purpose of D. A. R. E? The DARE program is intended to help deter school aged children from using and abusing drugs. When DARE programs are introduced to schools several steps are involved. The first step is finding a certified, uniformed police officer that is DARE certified. Secondly, the officer should be able to conduct about ten one hour DARE lessons.
In the article by Clayton, Cattarello, and Johnstone it states: The DARE curriculum, like many school-based curricula, combines aspects of information and education about drugs and their effects, peer pressure resistance skills, awareness of the influence of the media on decisions to use drugs, decision-making skills, more accurate perceptions of the numbers and percentage of same-age peers who are using drugs, enhancing self-esteem, recognizing one’s responsibility for safety, and avoiding gang involvement. (p. 1) The program does not want to scare children into being anti-drug advocates.
However, the program aims to teach children to recognize the warning signs of a bad situation such as being pressured to use drugs. As a result of teaching children to avoid peer pressure, they will be less vulnerable to criminals on the street who target young people. Why Should this Program Work? The purpose of DARE is to persuade students not to use drugs and engage in non- productive involvements in their lives. The curriculum aims to educate students about the negative effects and the consequences of using drugs. The program instills into student ways to avoid peer pressure and external influences.
As a result, by teaching children to say no to negative situations they will be able to live productive drug free lives. When schools implement this program, students should not engage in drug related activities in their future. The program is structured to be a tool for children to be aware of the negative outcomes of engaging in drugs and/or gangs. Instead, studies of the DARE program established that the DARE program does not have a long term effect in preventing students to use drugs. In addition, the program does not discourage children from associating with gangs.
Does D. A. R. E the Program Work? There is little evidence that DARE program works. There are many studies that come to the conclusion that the DARE is ineffective. Clayton, Cattarello, and Johnstone conducted a five year longitudinal study evaluating the long-term effects of the DARE program on elementary students. In their study, they randomly selected twenty-three elementary schools to use the DARE program. Additionally, eight schools were chosen to be the control group, and they were given basic drug education classes in correlation to their health class.
The participants in this study were 6th grader, and they were pre tested prior to their sixteen week DARE instruction and post tested after the completion of the program. In addition, they received follow up surveys every year up until their sophomore year of high school. The evaluation from the study by Clayton et al, revealed that the experimental and the control group displayed no significant difference in regards to refraining from cigarette, alcohol, or marijuana use during any periods of the follow up years (Clayton et al, 1996, p. 11).
As a result, the program does not work because it fails at its most important goal which is deterring children from using. On the other hand, there are studies indicating that even though the DARE program fails at stopping kids from using drugs and associating with gangs, the DARE program does present other positive outcomes when schools use the program. Schools that use DARE notice that students demonstrate a positive understanding of their community and police officers after being exposed to the DARE program.
Birkeland, Murphy-Graham and Weiss (2005) indicated that “Bringing D. A. R. E. officers into schools has improved the communication and teamwork between police and school departments” (p. 6). Since the program has the effect of improving the relationship between students and police officer, this has shown to be one of the key element why this program is still widely used in school systems. It is a great benefit that children can have a better understanding of the police officers in their community. Because of this understanding, children will see police officers less as people trying to ruin their lives and more as people that are there to help them.
On the other hand, this is not the goal of the program, despite the positive offset effects that occur when schools use DARE. Therefore, the program is ineffective because the main goal and purpose of the program is not to develop a student’s relationship with police officers, but to refrain children from using and abusing drug and staying away from gangs. Anti D. A. R. E Critic Even though the DARE program is a highly popular program and widely used in school, many people still criticize the program.
Critics who do not favor the DARE program consider that the funding for the program is too much especially since it is proven ineffective program. Critics of the DARE program find it, absurd that over a hundred million dollars are being spent to fund DARE, when the money could be used to fund other programs that do help deter children from using drugs and being in gangs. A strong critic of the DARE program is Dennis Rosenbuam, he believes that too much money is being spent on the program. Rosenbaum disapproves that millions of dollars are being spent on the DARE program year after year when it continuously fails to achieve positive results.
According to Rosenbuam (2007), “We can no longer afford to endorse programs that are known to be ineffective. Governments at all levels must be willing to ‘just say no’ to programs that have failed repeatedly” (p. 822). Rosenbuam makes a valid point, the government is wasting money and resources when they can use it to implement new programs that actually work. The limitation of the D. A. R. E Program Based on the many studies analyzing the effectiveness of DARE programs, they indicate that the program has many limitations.
One limitation the DARE program experiences according to Clayton, Cattarello, and Johnstone (1996) is “drug prevention programs are seeking to change behaviors which have a strong developmental element” (p. 11). The DARE program only touches upon the surface aspects of drugs such as informing children about the effects of using drugs and resisting peer pressure. However, deterring children from drugs and gangs takes more effort than what the DARE program is teaching children. A child does not simply use drug out of the blue.
In many cases, children are pre exposed to drugs or are coerced into using drugs prior to being introduced to the DARE program. Therefore, the DARE program should seek to address children who are at risk to using drugs and being in gangs based on their external influences. A second limitation to the DARE program is that schools that use DARE fail to recognize the external pressures of drug use among children. Birkeland et al (2005), observed that “the cultural appeal of drugs and the influence of peers, television, and even some families in maintaining a drug-friendly culture” (p. ). Birkeland et al were in disbelief regarding how DARE instructors could possibly consider that 17 hours of DARE instruction to could deter children from using drugs or to steer away from gangs. Schools that use DARE fail to consider Fthe external factors that influence children. Even though the DARE program is teaching children about all the negative effects of using drug, the program is not as powerful as the exposure children are getting from their peers and the people they look up to in their community.
Methods for a more Effective D. A. R. E program The DARE. program has the potential to prevent students from using drugs. However, the program coordinators are limited regarding as to what they can and cannot say to children. For example, legal restrictions such getting in trouble for showing inappropriate content that is harmful to children. For example, DARE instructors are restricted from showing children the gruesome effects of using cigarettes such as leg amputations and severe tooth decay.
If I were to implement a drug and gang educational program in schools I would make it more interactive. For example, exposing students to sufferers of drug abuse, in order for them to see the harms of using drugs up close and personal. My technique for doing this is inviting guest speakers in the class that are using popular drugs that are being used by the younger population. By doing this the students can observe and hear the consequences of what could happen if they were to use and abuse drugs.
This technique should be effective because if the student sees how the drug of their preference can negatively affect people they may be more deterred to not use the drug. Another method for a more effective DARE. program is to educate children about the law enforcement consequences of using drugs. Basically I would use the tough on crime techniques to persuade children not to use drugs. This should be a successful method because the children are not being directly affected. Therefore, telling them the elaborate details of drug law should instill some fear in them.
As a result of using a tough on crime technique, it will create a win-win situation. Such as putting fear into children as well as the adult figures in their lives. For example, children will communicate the information they receive during their instruction and inform the adults in their life’s who are using drugs. Once children understand how severe it is to sell, buy or even associate yourself with drugs, they are going to quickly persuade the adults they know to not use drugs and inform them on the harsh consequences that result from using drugs.
Conclusion Overall, DARE is a popular drug deterrence programs that is widely used in the United States. On the contrary, the program lacks evidence to support its effectiveness in dissuading students from using drugs. Adherently, the DARE programs are still widely used in school because of the positive effects it has on the community and how children perceive law enforcement. On the other hand, the program can be a successful deterrence program for children if it is reevaluated and the program implements effective methods in educating children about drugs and gangs.