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Last updated on: 3/27/2017 3:39:11 PM PST
Is the D.A.R.E. program good for America's kids (K-12)?


PRO (yes)

Eric Watson, MA, Sheriff of Bradley County in Tennessee, in a Jan. 29, 2017 article, "Shattering the Myths," available at the Cleveland Banner website, stated:

"Since 2014, when we reinstituted DARE, hundreds of Bradley County schools fifth-graders have learned how to avoid the pitfall of 'experimentation' with drugs and alcohol, as well as the dangers of tobacco use and how to deal with bullying...

There is a constant battle going on that I know DARE can help successfully fight. It's the battle of the notion that 'Drug and alcohol and tobacco use are no big deal' that is started by society through popular culture and the internet. Children are bombarded by movies, TV and the internet's assumptions that 'Hey, give it a try, it can't hurt just once.' This is where the DARE program in your child's school can be of great, possibly lifesaving value."

Jan. 29, 2017 - Eric Watson, MA 



Amy Nordrum, MA, Associate Editor at IEEE Spectrum, in a Sep. 10, 2014 article, "The New D.A.R.E. Program - This One Works," available at the Scientific American website, stated:

"[O]ver the past few years prevention scientists have helped D.A.R.E. America, the nonprofit organization that administers the program, replace the old curriculum with a course based on a few concepts that should make the training more effective for today's students. The new course, called keepin' it REAL, differs in both form and content from the former D.A.R.E. —replacing long, drug-fact laden lectures with interactive lessons that present stories meant to help kids make smart decisions...

keepin' it REAL has reduced substance abuse and maintained antidrug attitudes over time among students in early trials—an achievement that largely eluded the former iteration of the program."

Sep. 10, 2014 - Amy Nordrum, MA 



Rosie Cima, MA, freelance writer, in a Dec. 19, 2016 article, "DARE: The Anti-Drug Program That Never Actually Worked," available at the Priceonomics website, stated:

"Today's DARE promotes an education program that has a stamp of approval from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The replacement program, titled 'keepin' it REAL,' launched in 2011...

After two and a half decades of research, and the threat of extinction by defunding, DARE is finally friends with science. It's been a long hard road, but America's most popular drug resistance education program finally actually teaches kids to resist drugs."

Dec. 19, 2016 - Rosie Cima, MA 



Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), in an article, "D.A.R.E. Is Substance Abuse Prevention Education and Much More!," available at dare.org, (accessed Mar. 13, 2017), stated:

"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. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation's school districts and in more than 52 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives... There are numerous reasons for D.A.R.E.'s success. Its unparalleled delivery system utilizing law enforcement officers as instructors and the fact that it was the first program of its kind anywhere in the world have individually and collectively played a critical role in D.A.R.E.'s growth and expansion."

Mar. 13, 2017 - 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: "The D.A.R.E. program has helped me learn about drugs, alcohol and tobacco." 95% agree, 2% disagree, 3% neither

Students: "D.A.R.E. has helped me decide against using drugs in the future."* 95% agree, 1% disagree, 3% neither
*Survey results do not add up to 100%

Parents: "The D.A.R.E. program had a positive impact on my child." 96% agree, 1% disagree, 3% neither

Parents: "My child benefitted from the D.A.R.E. program." 96% agree, 1% disagree, 3% neither

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



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 



CON (no)

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEDBP), in an article accessed on Mar. 12, 2017, "What Is Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)?," available at cebcp.org, stated:

"We coded Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) under 'what doesn't work?' because there is a large, rigorous evidence base of studies suggesting D.A.R.E. has little or no impact on adolescent, drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. These were also the conclusions of two systematic reviews examining the effectiveness of D.A.R.E.

...[T]he overwhelming evidence that D.A.R.E. has little or no effect on adolescent drug use led us to place this program in the 'what doesn't work'' category."

Mar. 12, 2017 - Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP) 



Michael McGrath, MFA, freelance writer and writing instructor, in a Mar. 8, 2016 article, "Nancy Reagan and the Negative Impact of the 'Just Say No' Anti-Drug Campaign," available at The Guardian website, stated:

"Dare and 'Just Say No' spread fear and ignorance instead of information, placing all responsibility on the individual while denying them the tools they need to make key decisions...

[T]eens subjected to Dare remain just as likely to use drugs as those who receive no anti-drug messages...

[U]nless we radically change course and acknowledge the realities of American drug use and its underlying socioeconomic factors, millions of Dare kids like me will continue to grow up and say yes."

Mar. 8, 2016 - Michael McGrath, MFA 



Adanya Lustig, former Bangor Daily News reporter, in a Sep. 27, 2016 article, "The Research Isn't with D.A.R.E. - but Police Love It, and Maine Schools Still Use It," available at the Bangor Daily News website, stated:

"[A]bout 60 Maine schools continue to use D.A.R.E. despite the fact that other prevention programs are backed by more research and have shown their ability to protect kids. The new curriculum has not been proven effective in a rural setting...

When researchers looked five and 10 years later, they found that kids who had D.A.R.E. and kids who didn't were just as likely to do drugs. Some research showed that D.A.R.E. even made kids more likely to use drugs...

There's a rural 'Keepin' it REAL' curriculum with videos that show settings in which rural kids might actually do drugs — so no nightclubs in Miami. But the only study of this version of the program just looked at whether it was carried out according to plan. It didn't measure effectiveness in preventing substance use. The classic curriculum has not been studied in any rural areas either."

Sep. 27, 2016 - Adanya Lustig 



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 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," available on the Surgeon General website:

"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 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 M. 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