D.A.R.E. Program May Return To Schools
Back in the 1980’s it was hard to avoid the national D.A.R.E. campaign, which was put out by lawmakers and meant to teach kids about addiction. Known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, it included public school visits, commercials, board games, billboards and much more. It also cost billions of taxpayers dollars and was deemed, by some, to be unsuccessful. Regardless, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week that he hopes to bring the program back.
“D.A.R.E. is, I think, the best remembered anti-drug program today,”Sessions told the press at a recent publicity conference in Texas. “In recent years people have not paid much attention to that message but they are ready to hear it again.”
That, of course, raised many questions as to whether that message was ever successfully heard in the first place. Since making his announcement, several prominent outlets shared stats about D.A.R.E.’s failures in the 1980’s and whether the program was more about style than substance.
Yes, it got on the front pages of newspapers. It even received it’s own D.A.R.E. Day, declared by President Ronald Reagan back in 1988. But institutions like the University of Illinois at Chicago published studies that questioned its overall effectiveness with students.
“The effectiveness of DARE in altering students’ drug use behavior has yet to be established,” a researcher from the university wrote. “D.A.R.E.’s limited influence on adolescent drug use behavior contrasts with the program’s popularity and prevalence. An important implication is that DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug use curricula that adolescents could be receiving.”
Sessions, not surprisingly, countered that information with some data of his own.
“Whenever I ask adults around age 30 about prevention,” he added to the audience, “they always mention the D.A.R.E. program. Your efforts work. Lives and futures are saved.”
The big argument that arose back in the day (and was actually sparked again on social media after Sessions’ speech) was that D.A.R.E. may have had a reverse effect on teens and schoolchildren. By bringing attention to using and, as some say, “glamorizing” it, more curiosities were sparked and drug experimentation may have actually increased.
As for our opinion, we of course support all kinds of education about the dangers of addiction. But if it’s taxpayer money and it’s potentially taking away funds from issues like healthcare and recovery support, then it becomes much more of a gray area.
At this stage of the game, we are encouraging lawmakers to spend their funds wisely and focus on issues like America’s growing opioid epidemic. And if D.A.R.E. 2.0 can successfully do that, more power to them.