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Ineffectiveness of the D.A.R.E Program


Adolescents and teenagers continue to reap benefits from outreach programs across the country. The programs look to promote a healthy development of this category of people while promoting the highest ideals of character as they transition to the ...Read More


~Posted on Jan 2019

Ineffectiveness of the D.A.R.E Program

Adolescents and teenagers continue to reap benefi...

Adolescents and teenagers continue to reap benefits from outreach programs across the country. The programs look to promote a healthy development of this category of people while promoting the highest ideals of character as they transition to the next level of development which is youth. Several programs, however, seem not to achieve these goals even with the massive funding and lots of time investment. An example of this kind of a program is the Drug Abuse Resistance Program (D.A.R.E) (Freiheit, Montague and Wiggington). Despite the use of approaches like; development of personal goals and self-esteem and the one on resistances of peer pressure and advertisements, the D.A.R. E program and its administrators never seem to get things right. The program continues to take up millions of funding from the government yet not achieving any long-term effects on the children going through it. The administrators have always changed the curriculum and their tack ticks, but they have not worked out. Some of the ways they use to teach were using role playing, lectures and a few questions allowed for the students and finally the use of discussions in class. The last method is the one currently in use. The organization has changed their slogans several times in efforts to curb the failure in the program. The slogan in use currently is the “keepin’ it REAL” (Cima). This paper gives in detail on how the program has continued to fail and the reason why it should be terminated. The results of this will be saving time, money and the children it affects.

Since its inception in 1983, the D.A.R.E program has continued to receive negative criticisms on its workability. The program began in the city of Los Angeles where Daryl Gates the then chief of police in the LA Police Department (LAPD) assisted in creating the program, therefore became its first figurehead. Daryl Gates came up with the program due to the increase in the number of drug busts on school campuses hence, the creation of a preventative education program instead of punishment. A collaboration between, LAPD, LA Unified School, and the local Rotary Club by the name Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E) was created. Before the inception of this program, research on drug prevention education was already taking place with a title “SMART” and with which the D.A.R.E formed its basis. Gates believed that the police were more credible in matters of drug use than any other professionals involved in the case. Therefore, they were to teach these students a 45 minutes’ lecture based on the curriculum developed by Dr. Ruth Rich the district’s specialist in health education. Due to Gates move of proposing the program to be run by police officers, some of the original authors of the SMART program backed off from the program leaving to in the hands of Gates and Rich to spearhead it. The program had grown to be a regular fixture in LA schools and was popular among parents and children within a few years. By mid-nineties, the program had developed to be a national organization with the highest annual revenue. The positive reaction from people was as a result of them viewing it as a proactive act towards the elimination of the drug use problem among teenagers and young adults. The positivity was not to last long since; researches were conducted to determine whether the program is doing well and the results were not favorable to the program (Cima).

Among the many adverse effects of the program on the adolescents and teenagers is the potential harm the therapy causes and which is in violation of the hypocritical oath taken by physicians. Recent studies have proven that several psychological treatments can cause detrimental damage to the individual undergoing the program. The treatment methods that cause harm to the patients are known as the potential harmful therapies (PHTs). It is until recently that these harmful treatments have been found to cause the individual to deteriorate instead of improving. D.A.R.E can be classified as a PHT. The reason to conclude this is that many kids in this program ignore the program’s message which is zero-tolerance to drugs. The reason behind this could be to the fact that these children have relatives at home or neighbors who partake these drugs with no adverse effects. This results in children thinking that the program is just an exaggerated thing to prevent them from indulging in “fun” things like the family members do. In a few pieces of research conducted earlier, there has been an increase in the number of children involved in drugs and alcohol intake instead of reducing. This is another indicator that the program is a PHT. The program overestimates the number of children engaging in drug use and make the use of things like alcohol a normal thing. It is however not done intentionally, but the excessive focus on hard drugs like heroin and cocaine make the children see alcohol as a not so but thing to try out. The mind of a child or an adolescent is vulnerable, and especially teens are prone to trying out new things, therefore, normalizing alcohol intake opens an opportunity for them to try out ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").

The harm caused by this program is also in violation of the physicians’ hypocritical oath. The oath requires the doctor to do no harm to the individual. Development of these program involved teachers, the police, and medical personnel. One of the medical staff involved in the original creation of the program was Dr. Ruth Rich a district health specialist in LA at that time. Through the various pieces of research on the program, it has been proven over and over again that the program causes harm since it is just short term benefits seen. In the long run, the individuals are not able to resist the use of drugs. This is to show that the medical personnel involved have continues to violate the oath of doing no harm to the children. Therefore, to redeem themselves from this, it is only prudent to discontinue the program and advocate for another that causes no harm to any of the people involved ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").

The program lures parents into false believe that the program works hence the children continuously engage in the use of drugs ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). The program is very popular among parents, which is one of the things that made it spread to the national level as it spread through word of mouth. Due to this false believe, parents neglect their children because the program is taking care of advising the children. The teachers, on the other hand, leave the job to the police and the parents because their work is teaching the normal curriculum. The result of this is getting a child who is left alone with pressure from friends to try out new things. There is the portion of responsibility that a parent is supposed to take care of when bringing up a child, but when the program is there, the parents think that the program is taking care of everything a parent does. On the police department side, the police officers believe that the parents are taking care of that. Finally, the child ends up losing because of what the program is doing which is normalizing soft drugs. The kids end up using them but if the parent had taken the responsibility to explain to the child that all drugs are not good for their health, then maybe they would not get involved.

Parent’s responsibility towards their children is to guide them and advise them when they are at home. A study in 2011 revealed that the program is ineffective in the long run. The results were due to, normalization of alcohol use in the program, make the children try it out. This is done when parents are not around and as they grow and go to colleges the intake of alcohol is not restricted since they feel that they are adults and should not be controlled. If the program were to change in the approach and stop overestimating its effectiveness, maybe there could be ways to save it. The parents also need to understand when something is too good hence need to take charge of their children’s lives while they are still young so that when they are old, they can be able to resist drug use ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").

The number of schools administering the D.A.R.E. program has declined over the years which is an indicator that the teachers and school administrator do not believe that the program reaps any favorable fruits ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). Schools in areas like Asotin and Pomeroy in Washington are examples of the many that have declined to offer the D.A.R.E program. It is their third year now since they discontinued. This is not only because the program does not work, but also due to a staffing issue. The D.A.R.E has been having a problem with revenue which has been on the decline. As a result, the do not have enough stuff to take care of each and every school. Another reason to believe that the program does not work, this is because, if it was efficient and did not have any contested issues, the organization world be receiving funds from the government and from other individuals or organizations in support of the good work they are doing (Stone). According to a study conducted in 2012, 60% school districts have eliminated the D.A.R.E program in their curriculum from around mid-200s to the year 2012 which was in thirty-two states where data on this was available. The D.A.R.E program annual report for the year 2011 showed a total revenue of $3.7 million a 62% decline from 2000’s $9.7 million. This with no doubt indicates a massive failure in the organization ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").

Alternative programs that are run by teachers and parents seem to reap positive fruits. An example is one called Just Say No to Drugs. It was similar to D.A.R.E, but the difference was in administration. With the help from the police department, the program becomes very expensive for nothing. This is because parents do not need training to advice their children and teachers do not need extra training because they already know how to handle the children. Besides, some of the teachers are parents too which makes them the suited candidates to run a program that will help eliminate the drug problem. The D.A.R.E. spends approximately $700 million a year which makes it one of the most expensive drug programs in the country which is not good at all because it is the list effective. The money would be useful if it were given to other programs that work and the results can be seen (Freiheit, Montague and Wiggington).

D.A.R.E program has been there since 1983, their policies and messages have remained the same even though there have been efforts of trying to change this, they have not achieved it. A repeated message over and over again, makes the program sound boring to the kids who have been hearing it since elementary to seventh grade. The children end up just ignoring it since it is a cliché in their life (Reaves). The reaction is a negative one and which any program is supposed to avoid. A survey of the program in California by the California Department of Education showed that 90% of the high school students had a negative or indifferent feelings towards the program, 70% were said to have reported negative feelings towards those who were administering the program. 40% students were reported to have been zero influenced by the program and 33% of middle school children reported negative or indifferent feelings towards the program. This, therefore, impacts significantly of the failure of the program ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").

A program that does not impact as it is desired does not deserve to be funded nor even to exist. It continues to affect negatively to the children while costing the country a lot of resources that can be used in other areas. The police officers administering the program could be helpful in law enforcement duties. The children would have time to work on school related projects, and the money would be spent on other programs that work. Examples of these other programs are the YMCA and girls’ and boys’ guide. The later helps in the development of a child from a young age and which its activities are fun, and kids get to learn as they grow. The program gives children a sense of ownership and belonging. The YMCA is a program for the youth one that provides a platform for young people to develop themselves, talent wise and career wise.

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Ineffectiveness of the D.A.R.E Program