D.A.R.E.
Video introduction to ProCon.org and the pros and cons of controversial topics
Last updated on: 3/15/2011 1:46:42 PM PST

Is the D.A.R.E. program good for America's kids (K-12)?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Greg Berman, Director, and Aubrey Fox, Director of Special Projects, both for the Center for Court Innovation, wrote in a 2009 report titled "Lessons from the Battle over D.A.R.E.: The Complicated Relationship between Research and Practice":
"There have been dozens of articles written about D.A.R.E that tell a similar story: how D.A.R.E. America has been able to convince educators and the public into supporting the program over the objections of researchers. A closer looks reveals that in the case of D.A.R.E. many local practitioners were able to sift through the competing claims of researchers and D.A.R.E. America and make more-or-less reasoned judgments about whether to keep D.A.R.E. In general, local officials reached their own conclusions about what made the most sense for their jurisdictions. In some places, this has meant that D.A.R.E. is still a vital, active presence; in others, this has meant that D.A.R.E. has been scrapped in favor of other programs.

While the fight over D.A.R.E. is mostly over, the controversy exposed a gap between researchers and practitioners that continues to this day. Some degree of conflict between these worlds is probably inevitable. Social scientists and criminal justice officials have different value systems and divergent world views - they are separated by training, location, professional rewards, and even the vocabulary they use."

2009 - Greg Berman 
Aubrey Fox 

Is the D.A.R.E. program good for America's kids (K-12)?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) stated the following in a page titled "About D.A.R.E." on its website www.dare.com (accessed Mar. 16, 2010):

"This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence...

D.A.R.E. goes beyond traditional drug abuse and violence prevention programs. It gives children the skills needed to recognize and resist the subtle and overt pressures that cause them to experiment with drugs or become involved in gangs or violent activities."


Mar. 16, 2010 - Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) 

Barack Obama, JD, 44th US President, stated in an Apr. 8, 2009 Presidential Proclamation for National D.A.R.E. Day, 2009:
"Today we commemorate Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), a program that has worked to educate children and protect them from these problems. National D.A.R.E. Day provides the opportunity to reflect upon the dangers of drugs, gangs, and violence and to emphasize efforts to combat these threats...

Today we honor D.A.R.E. for its important work. The efforts of D.A.R.E.'s instructors and supporters benefit our Nation's children and are deserving of praise and appreciation. D.A.R.E.'s renewed efforts to implement science-based programs and to strengthen partnerships among law enforcement, families, and their communities are particularly worthy of commendation. Through effective teaching methods and broad participation, D.A.R.E. can help ensure that every child in America enjoys the opportunities he or she deserves."

Apr. 8, 2009 - Barack Obama, JD 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found the following results in a 2007 survey of 5,376 students and 3,095 parents titled "D.A.R.E.: Drug Abuse Resistance Education: National Client Survey 2007" on www.dare.com:
Students Agree Disagree Neither
"The D.A.R.E. program has helped me learn about drugs, alcohol and tobacco" 95% 2% 3%
"D.A.R.E. has helped me decide against using drugs in the future."* 95% 1% 3%
* Survey results do not add up to 100%


Parents Agree Disagree Neither
"The D.A.R.E. program had a positive impact on my child." 96% 1% 3%
"My child benefitted from the D.A.R.E. program." 96% 1% 3%

2007 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation wrote in an Oct. 29, 2002 press release titled "Study Shows New D.A.R.E. Program Helps Youths Decide against Using Drugs," about a study they funded for $13.7 million, available on www.rwfj.com:
"The University of Akron today released results of the evaluation of the new D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) 7th grade curriculum. The findings show improvements in students' decision-making skills, drug refusal skills, and beliefs that drug use is socially inappropriate...

More students decided against using drugs. The research found that decision-making skill scores for those schools receiving the new curriculum were 6 percent higher than for control group schools, including those that offered other forms of prevention education...

More students learned how to refuse drugs: Refusal skills were significantly higher - 5 percent - among treatment students compared to control and comparison students."

Oct. 29, 2002 - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 

Joseph F. Donnermeyer, PhD, Professor of the Rural Sociology Program in the Department of Human and Community Resource Development at Ohio State University, and G. Howard Philips, PhD, former Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University, wrote in a 1999 report titled "D.A.R.E. Works: As Reported by 3,150 Ohio Eleventh Graders" available on the D.A.R.E. Association of Ohio website:
"This study found that D.A.R.E. did influence eleventh grade students' attitudes and behaviors about substance use. The differences reported here were all statistically significant, and in a positive direction. All in all, D.A.R.E. reduced substance use, increased peer resistance, encouraged communication with parents and other responsible adults, and increased positive views of the police. Prevention education programs such as D.A.R.E. have a major role in teaching the dangers and consequences of substance abuse. Like other prevention efforts, D.A.R.E. plays an important role in supporting families, positive peer groups, and communities in order to raise healthy, responsible youth."

1999 - G. Howard Phillips, PhD 
Joseph F. Donnermeyer, PhD 

Joseph A. Santoro, MS, Dean of Public Safety in the Department of Public Safety at Rio Hondo College, wrote in an article titled "D.A.R.E. Works! A Police Chief's Perspective" on www.dare.com (accessed Apr. 9, 2010):
"In Monrovia, we believe the most promising frontier in America's longstanding war on drugs... is in the classroom. Classrooms where school children are receiving face-to-face instruction that is giving them the skills and techniques necessary to protect themselves from drug abuse...

D.A.R.E., with the support of parents and the community, can help reduce the number of children who fall prey to smoking, drinking and illicit drugs...

And, although there are many worthwhile prevention programs, none has successfully touched more young people in America than D.A.R.E."

Apr. 9, 2010 - Joseph A. Santoro, MS 

Cathy Eiting, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Staff Development in the Amphitheater Public School District in Tuscon, AZ at the time of the quote, stated in a Feb. 26, 2004 Tucson Weekly article titled "Truth or D.A.R.E.?" by Tim Vanderpool:
"It's a controversial program... but there is a lot of support for D.A.R.E. Parents support it. While I can't say with any degree of certainty that it has an effect on drug use, I've seen it having a positive effect on kids. It contributes to student morale, and teaches kids things we want them to learn about good behavior and values."

Feb. 26, 2004 - Cathy Eiting 

Christopher Ringwalt, DrPH, Senior Research Scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), et al., wrote in a Sep. 1994 report titled "Past and Future Directions of the D.A.R.E. Program: An Evaluation Review" on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website:
"D.A.R.E. was more effective at influencing factors believed to mediate drug use. It is most noteworthy that D.A.R.E. had positive effects on social skills because it is widely believed that children with greater social competencies are more able to resist social pressures to use drugs. Long-term impact of D.A.R.E., therefore, may result from D.A.R.E.'s immediate impact on social skills."

Sep. 1994 - Christopher Ringwalt, DrPH 

Louis "Skip" Miller, JD, Chairman of the Board of Directors of D.A.R.E. America, stated in a Jan. 28, 2010 Los Angeles Times opinion article titled "Don't Legalize Marijuana":
"Between 1979 and 2007, the rate of illegal drug use fell by half. Programs such as D.A.R.E. taught schoolchildren the facts about drugs, alcohol and tobacco and bolstered their critical thinking and decision-making skills so they can do more than just say no. In conjunction with Penn State University, the new D.A.R.E. middle school curriculum has been vetted and proved effective at reducing drug use. In recent years, D.A.R.E. has added units on prescription and over-the-counter medications, abuse of which is growing among teens - another reminder, along with abuse of alcohol, that just because something is legal, it doesn't necessarily reduce the risk of abuse."

Jan. 28, 2010 - Louis "Skip" Miller, JD 

The Mount Vernon City Schools, District 80 includes the following in an article titled "D.A.R.E. Curricula" on www.district.mtv80.org (accessed Apr. 9, 2010):
"Part of the reason D.A.R.E. (Drugs Abuse Resistance Education) works so well is because it is a collaborative effort between your police department, your school, parents, and community leaders. D.A.R.E. works because it surrounds children with support and encouragement from all sides...

D.A.R.E. teaches kids how to be assertive and to deal with peer pressure by saying no effectively. Students learn about the dangers of drugs and gain self-confidence by acting out problem situations...

D.A.R.E. has become the premiere substance abuse program in the world today. It is taught in all fifty of the United States and in 52 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. works hard to keep your students away from drugs and violence."

Apr. 9, 2010 - Mount Vernon City Schools, District 80 

Mickey Bailey, Sergeant in the St. Mary's County, MD Sheriff's Office at the time of the quote, was quoted in a Nov. 6, 2006 Washington Post article titled "Sheriff's Race Could Hinge on Support for Drug Education" by Megan Greenwall:
"I was at the county fair a couple of years ago, and a woman who was probably 22 came running up to me and said, 'You were my DARE officer, and you're the reason I didn't do drugs... That type of stuff happens all the time, and that's what convinces me it's useful...

It was the type of job where you felt like you could make a difference... On patrol you lock the same people up over and over again. DARE was one of those rare things that was proactive instead of reactive."

Nov. 6, 2006 - Mickey Bailey 

Joan M. Retsinas, PhD, Lecturer in Health Policy at Tufts University's School of Occupational Therapy at the time of the quote, stated in a Mar. 12, 2001 article titled "Decision to Cut Off U.S. Aid to D.A.R.E. Hailed" in the Providence Business News:
"DARE argues that 'if D.A.R.E. detoured just one child....' communities should support it. Yet if a drug worked one percent of the time, the Food and Drug Administration would pull it off the market. Many experts assert that politics is what has kept the much-criticized program around for so many years, despite a mountain of evidence that it's not only ineffective but sometimes even counterproductive and causing harm to young people."

Mar. 12, 2001 - Joan M. Retsinas, PhD 

Ross "Rocky" Anderson, JD, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT at the time of the quote, stated in an article titled "Mayor Rocky Anderson Talks about What It's Like to... Drop the D.A.R.E. Program" in the Winter 2001-2002 issue of ReconsiDer Quarterly:
"I was - and still am - convinced that the American people had been badly betrayed. D.A.R.E. had created, through its public relations efforts, including t-shirts and bumper stickers and such, the sense, among the public, that we were really doing something by utilizing D.A.R.E. in our public schools to reduce long-term drug use in our public schools. The net result has been lost and ruined lives, many of which could have been saved through the utilization of effective drug prevention programs. I’m not simply against D.A.R.E.; I’m for effective programs."

Winter 2001-2002 - Ross "Rocky" Anderson, JD 

Dennis P. Rosenbaum, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wrote in a Nov. 29, 2007 article titled "Just Say No to D.A.R.E." in Criminology & Public Policy:
"Across more than 30 studies, the collective evidence from evaluations with reasonably good scientific validity suggests that the core D.A.R.E. program does not prevent drug use in the short term, nor does it prevent drug use when students are ready to enter high school or college. Students who receive D.A.R.E. are indistinguishable from students who do not participate in the program. The basic question then becomes: How can we reconcile this state of knowledge with the reality of worldwide support for D.A.R.E.?...

The irony for the drug prevention field (and other fields as well) is that a program known to be ineffective receives millions of dollars in support, whereas programs known to be effective or promising are sidelined and remain unfunded."

Nov. 29, 2007 - Dennis P. Rosenbaum, PhD 

The General Accounting Office (GAO), which changed its name to the Government Accountability Office on July 7, 2004, wrote in a Jan. 15, 2003 letter to US Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) titled "Youth Illicit Drug Use Prevention: DARE Long-Term Evaluations and Federal Efforts to Identify Effective Programs" on www.gao.gov:
"...[T]he six long-term evaluations of the DARE elementary school curriculum that we reviewed found no significant differences in illicit drug use between students who received DARE in the fifth or sixth grade (the intervention group) and students who did not (the control group). Three of the evaluations reported that the control groups of students were provided other drug use prevention education. All of the evaluations suggested that DARE had no statistically significant long-term effect on preventing youth illicit drug use."

Jan. 15, 2003 - Government Accountability Office (GAO) 

The Office of the Surgeon General wrote in its 2001 report titled "Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General" on www.surgeongeneral.gov:
"One school-based universal prevention program meets the criteria for Does Not Work: Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE. DARE is the most widely implemented youth drug prevention program in the United States. It receives substantial support from parents, teachers, police, and government funding agencies, and its popularity persists despite numerous well-designed evaluations and meta-analyses that consistently show little or no deterrent effects on substance use. Overall, evidence on the effects of the traditional DARE curriculum, which is implemented in grades 5 and 6, shows that children who participate are as likely to use drugs as those who do not participate."

2001 - Office of the Surgeon General 

Jessica Reaves, writer for TIME.com at the time of the quote, wrote in a Feb. 15, 2001 article titled "Just Say No to DARE" on www.time.com:
"The weakness in the old DARE program, as several studies suggest, was the simplicity of its message - and its panic-level assertions that 'drug abuse is everywhere.' Kids, program directors learned, don't respond well to hyperbole, and both the 'Just Say No' message and the hysteria implied in the anti-drug rhetoric were pushing students away. It's also possible, some researchers speculate, that by making drugs seem more prevalent, or 'normal' than they actually are, the DARE program might actually push kids who are anxious to fit in towards drugs."

Feb. 15, 2001 - Jessica Reaves 

Ethan Nadelmann, JD, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is quoted in an Apr. 15, 2003 Newsweek article titled "'Just Say Know': An Advocate of Drug Law Reform Says D.A.R.E. Is a 20-year Old Failure" by Brian Braiker:
"[D.A.R.E.] is a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that all the evidence shows has had absolutely no effect. It’s a testament to the willingness of Congress to pour billions down the drain on a feel-good program in blatant disregard of one study after another indicating that there is no impact on drug use."

Apr. 15, 2003 - Ethan Nadelmann, JD, PhD 

Edward Shepard, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at LeMoyne College, wrote in an article titled "A New Study Finds... We Wasted Billions on D.A.R.E." in the Winter 2001-2002 issue of ReconsiDer Quarterly:
"Scientific research of the [D.A.R.E] program provides information needed to assess its benefits. Many evaluations, however, show a neutral or negative effect of the D.A.R.E. program. (As a result, D.A.R.E. is no longer included on the list of approved programs, based on the 'principles of effectiveness' by the U.S. Department of Education.) The evaluations that have been done suggest that the students and the community are receiving no measurable benefit from participation in the program. From an economic perspective, this suggests that the program should be discontinued because it is costly, ineffective, and possibly counterproductive."

Winter 2001-2002 - Edward Shepard, PhD 

Tim Baldermann, Mayor of the Village of New Lenox, IL, is quoted in a Jan. 26, 2003 Chicago Tribune article titled "Now Many 'Just Say No' to DARE in Schools" by Amanda Vogt:
"I can't tell you how many kids told me DARE introduced them to drugs. The problem with DARE, other than that it's a multimillion dollar conglomerate in the business of selling T-shirts, is that it takes the burden off parents to raise their kids."

Jan. 26, 2003 - Tim Baldermann 

The Chicago Tribune wrote in an Aug. 11, 1999 editorial article titled "It's Time to Show D.A.R.E. the Door":
"...[I]f success were measured in the number of T-shirts given away or certificates handed out, D.A.R.E. would indeed be successful. But it's not...

There's got to be a better way to educate young people about the hazards of substance abuse, but as long as a high-profile pseudo-solution is available, there's little incentive to find out what might really work. And that's the sad part - especially for the kids this program ought to be helping."

Aug. 11, 1999 - Chicago Tribune 

Gilbert Puder, Vancouver (Canada) Police Officer at the time of the quote, in an Apr. 21, 1998 presentation to the Fraser Institute titled "Sensible Solutions to the Urban Drug Problem" and available on the Fraser Institute website, stated:
"This intellectual dishonesty is painfully apparent when agencies appropriate the educator's mandate, substituting police for professional teachers. One only has to examine the abuses of the expensive and dubiously effective DARE program in the U.S. Extensive studies detail the failures of DARE and the U.S. General Accounting Office conspicuously declined to include the program in it's recent evaluation of drug education...

I wonder if parents and local taxpayers are aware that 1998 University of Illinois research found greater drug use among students who had experienced DARE? In our information-based society we can't patronize people anymore, regardless of their age. A resurgence of marijuana use in Western societies is remarkably coincidental with electronic freedom of information on the world-wide web, and one must ask how many teenagers now simply disregard their cigarette-smoking or alcohol-drinking parents, teachers and police as dishonest hypocrites."

Apr. 21, 1998 - Gilbert Puder 

Jodi Upton, Sports Database Editor for USA Today, wrote in a Feb. 27, 2000 Detroit News article titled "D.A.R.E.: Failing Our Kids":
"...[F]or all of DARE’s expense, widespread use and powerful supporters, a four-month Detroit News study found teens in districts that offered DARE in elementary school were no less likely to try drugs and alcohol than teens from districts without DARE...

Such figures prompt DARE’s critics to say it’s a costly sugar pill that may lull parents, police and educators into a dangerous, false confidence that their kids won’t do drugs. There is evidence the program may encourage drug use and keep more effective programs from getting into schools."

Feb. 27, 2000 - Jodi Upton 

Visit the ProCon.org community on:

© 2014 ProCon.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit     |   233 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200, Santa Monica, CA 90401    |    Tel: 310-451-9596   




Hide/Show