Does D.A.R.E. Work?
Featured image credit: D.A.R.E. Program | Talbot County
Tips for Keeping Kids Away from Drugs
D.A.R.E. is a program that has been implemented in schools to keep young kids away from drugs. The acronym stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and was implemented in public schools around the time your parents were there. The main purpose of the program was to increase awareness about drug abuse and addiction, as well as teaching kids how to not give into peer pressure.
The D.A.R.E. program started with the slogan, “Just say no,” which became a veritable meme, even before there was an internet to help it spread. The program lasted for seventeen weeks and included structured lessons about topics including personal rights, peer pressure, self-esteem, and alternatives to engaging in substance abuse and violence.
Criticism of the Program
Image credit: Police in Classroom | Counter Current News
Although the program seems like an intuitive solution to drug abuse among teenagers, D.A.R.E. wasn’t without its critics. Over thirty different studies concluded that the program did not have short-term or long-term effects on youth drug experimentation. At least one longitudinal study that lasted for over a decade indicated that those who completed the D.A.R.E. program were not less likely to partake in drug abuse or related behaviors, possibly because of D.A.R.E.’s obsessive focus on education without devoting resources to increased accountability. According to Recover Resource, structured accountability groups decrease risk of relapse and experimentation, so you would expect it to be a critical piece of a program designed to keep kids away from drugs.
In addition to the criticism on the program’s effectiveness, others criticized the fact that officers teach the course instead of educators. Some have argued that these officers do not receive enough training to effectively teach the course. Critics have suggested that the involvement of school counselors or trained educators would be more effective in delivering the material.
Benefits of the Program
D.A.R.E. continues to educate kids about the dangers of harmful substances and risky behaviors. While it may not be the comprehensive solution that your parents or their parents hoped it would be, it probably doesn’t hurt to be informed about these issues
The D.A.R.E. program had mixed results, at best. The design of the program might not have been fatally flawed, but the problem was that too many parents and educators used it as a crutch to avoid difficult conversations. Adults need to trust that you’re mature enough to have these conversations, however uncomfortable they are for everyone involved. After all, you’re going to be making more and more of your own decisions in the next couple of years, so it makes sense for you to know the relevant facts so you can live the kind of life you want to live.