What the Research Says about DARE Programs So are DARE programs really ineffective, or is this just a picture that has been painted from skeptics over the years? Well, the research is pretty clear: DARE programs serve little benefit, if any. The US General Accounting Office, the US Surgeon General, the US Department of Education and the National Academy of Sciences have all concluded from their scientific studies that students who received DARE classes are no less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol or have an increased sense of self esteem. Armed with this information, the US Department of Education prohibits schools from spending money on DARE programs. Of course, not everyone agrees with these findings. The nearly 100 police officers that teach the program to students feel that the greatest results are those that we don’t see: the increase in self-esteem, enhanced awareness of drugs and the ability to learn creative ways to say no. But with dwindling support from the government, education system and community, it’s hard to continue implementing the program, which is why DARE is quickly phasing out.
Why DARE Programs Don’t WorkIt’s hard to imagine that a program that has been naturally embedded in our schools’ curriculums has been ineffective and possibly even harmful all along. Some schools actually saw an increase in drug use, and many other schools have had similar findings. Here are a few reasons why the DARE program has shown to be lackluster and counterproductive:
- The program exposes school age children to drugs earlier than they need to be, increasing their curiosity.
- DARE has used the same drug prevention model for decades, even though this model has been debunked and proven not to work.
- DARE is a costly program that brings money to the local police departments, and schools are always willing to give the program another try.
- The program makes kids feel that “drugs are everywhere.” This notion leads kids to believe that everyone is using drugs and that they should, too.
- Police officers are ineffective at delivering anti-drug messages. Peer-to-peer interaction is most beneficial.