A first ever survey on national drug abuse to include elementary school children as respondents suggested that children become more vulnerable to the appeal of narcotics the moment they leave the familiar environment at the primary level and try to fit into the middle school (Wren). Various programs are therefore formed that seek to help these children not to fall into the trap of drug abuse. D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is one of these programs. However, it has been contested whether the program is effective or not. This paper looks at the opinions of those who believe it works the view of those who do not believe in the program and the alternatives of the program.
D.A.R.E is a program that was launched in 1983 and as of today, it is taking place in 75% of US district schools and in over 50 other countries. Over 70,000 police officers have been trained and working with these children. However, there have been questions whether the program is working or not. The proponents contend that the program improves the social interaction between the police officers, the schools, and the students, it is popular with both parents and children, and it is the most preferred program in the United States. On the other hand the opponents, through the support of peer review research, believe that the program is ineffective at preventing children from using drugs, and it is even actually associated with increased use of these drugs among the children. Another group of people believes that alternative programs would be more helpful compared to the DARE program ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").
The proponents, who are the leaders of the D.A.R.E program, believe that the program should not be deemed as not working on the basis of evidence from speculative research like it has always been judged by the scientists (Hanson). They believe that the program is worth regardless of the cost or efficiency as long as it can stop even one child from getting into drugs, becoming an addict or even dying from an overdose ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). Their view as the leaders is imperative because they are the owners of the project. If the project was to succeed, they need to show people that the project is necessary. People would not believe in the project if its initiators did not defend it.
The opponents are the scientists who have continuously since the inception of the program, criticized its effectiveness. One research in Houston, Texas showed that instead of the program preventing the drug use, there was a 35% increase in smoking tobacco and a 29% increase in drug use among the students in the D.A.R.E program (Hanson). The opponents also believe that the program only lures parents into believing that it works. Hence they become less involved with their children’s life as drugs are concerned since the D.A.R.E is doing all the work. What results from this is neglect and children falling in the drug pitfall. Their voice is important because it highlights the issues with the program hence alerting parents and the authority to rethink on various decisions like funding the organization or allowing their children to participate ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").
Finally, there is the group of people advocating for alternative solutions. Dr. William Hansen, one of the people who helped design D.A.R.E original curriculum thinks that the program should be ended entirely and redevelop another with new strategies which will be effective (Hanson). He is an example of many others with the same view which is important to the whole issue. It offers a solution for the tag or war between the proponents and opponents and ends the battle.
Both sides of the argument are valid since they have their reasons for supporting they stand. The proponents have shown the positive aspect of the program which is help children overcome drug use while as the opposing side has demonstrated that even if the program works, it is only at the initial state. Addiction continues to affect young people in our country therefore there needs to be an efficient system or program that works to save the young generation.
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