The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program
A large number of people today find themselves in the trap of drugs and substance abuse in their adult life. The habit is as a result of exposure to these drugs at a very young age and did not have programs to help them handle drugs. However, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (D.A.R.E) has been there to assist children of young age how to develop resistance to substance abuse in most parts of the country. The program, however, faces criticism, where some people believe that it does not work hence, should be scraped off completely. The other group thinks that the program works although not efficiently and that it needs redevelopment to maximized its effectiveness. This paper will test the validity of either side to determine which decision should be made concerning the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
The D.A.R.E program originated from Los Angeles in 1983 with the chief of police in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) assisting in developing it. The police commissioner was Daryl Gates, and as a result, he became the figurehead of the program. The development of the program was as a result of increased number of drug busts on school campuses and as a result, they opted to develop a program that chooses to direct and advise the participants instead of punishing them. The D.A.R.E program was, therefore, developed in a collaborative effort between the local Rotary Club, the LAPD, and the LA Unified School. The program has a comprehensive K-12 education curriculum taught in thousands of schools all around the US and 52 other countries in the world. As of today, the program takes place in 75% of US district schools with over 70,000 police officers administering the curriculum. The officers have been trained specially to be about to handle the children from elementary to high school. The number has, however, declined due to its said counteractive effect on the participants. Other than drug use resistance, the program assists school going children in other areas affecting them in school and outside school life. The other areas include bullying, internet safety, violence and any other areas that may pose challenges as the children grow up (Cima).
The group of people who believe that the program does not work proposes various reasons to support their argument, one of them being that the program rather than helping, makes the situation of drug resistance worse. They believe that the program causes a potential harm according to how the therapy is performed 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. As a result, children are rendered to 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. 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 belief, 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 standard 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. With no doubt, this 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).
Despite the proposed reasons for terminating the program, there is another group of people who believe that the program is worth keeping around for longer as it impacts on few people. The group argues that it is worth continuing with the program even though it only impacts in a single person’s life as it is worth more than saving none. The group also proposes a redevelopment of the program to make sure that it increases the number of individual benefiting from the D.A.R.E program. The group supports its argument through various supportive evidence as discussed below.
One of the primary reasons why the D.A.R.E program should not be scrapped off is that the D.A.R.E program helps in preventing the use of drugs among children in elementary, middle schools and even in high school. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) children who have participated in the D.A.R.E program were found to be able to resist drug abuse. The substances in this discussion are marijuana, tobacco, and even alcohol. The report categorized the students as 32% of them to have been able to discontinue alcohol consumption altogether, 42% of them being able to reduce alcohol consumption from the start of the D.A.R.E program. Numerous organizations have conducted other researches on the program among them being the Research Triangle Institute. In their findings, the firm found that the participants in the program who proceed and graduate are less likely to initiate substance abuse in a group like smoking compared to those who did not participate. In another research by a peer-review evaluation conducted in 2010, it was found that among those students who took part in the “Take Charge of Your Life” curriculum stipulated by Robert Wood Foundation, those who used marijuana in 7th grade, were less likely to use it in the 11th grade and above. The results were an indication that the program worked for bettering the future of the participants. If there is persistence change of slogans together with curriculum, it is possible to attain the overall goal which is to save as many children as possible from being consumed by drugs and alcohol.
The program is also imperative as it targets a group of children between elementary and high school which is the stage at which they are growing ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). The stage of growing is where the children are trying to understand themselves and understand how the world operates. If they are not guided through programs like the D.A.R.E they may end up trapped in drug use or even getting exploited by drug cartels. The school environment has a potential as a locus where crime or good can develop. The reason being that the environment provides regular access to children from all ages and different backgrounds during their developmental years (Gottfredson, Denise C.). The D.A.R.E program unlike any other that has been proposed to take its position focuses on this group which makes it unique and more suited to solving the issues. Therefore, should not be removed, in fact, the program should be redeveloped to make it suitable to the age and the environment, unlike its current curriculum which is inflexible. The curriculum requires the instructors to follow what is written to the letter without bend even a little to suit the targeted group. The program empowers the young children to be self-confident by equipping them with knowledge which boosts self-esteem and in future produces good citizens who can be productive contributing towards the development of the country at large.
The second reason for keeping the program around a little bit longer is that it promotes social interactions between the police officers, the children, and the parents. A report by a peer-reviewed study indicated that those students who interacted with police officers during the program when they were young, after graduation they are able to see the police officers as people who are there to help. The report also indicated a difference in perception for those who did not interact with the police officers during their years in school ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org").
The category that did not have a chance to interact with the officers saw them as a group of people in the society that only bring problems to people as their work is to arrest them. In their eyes, they are the bad guys in the situation and hard to interact with especially if one perceives they are in the wrong. The program has in the past help children view police officers as individuals in the society who help keep peace and if it is eliminated it means that the effects will be discontinued and the community will go back to seeing the officers as the “bad guys” in the society.
Through the various interactions where the police and the community in question interact there is a particular relation formed where they collaborate in keeping the community safe. For example, if a police officer interacts with a student then the students trust the cops like what happens when a student trusts a teacher, the student can share problems they have. The problems could be security at home or even domestic violence. In the end, the police officer can help the student from the capacity of a police officer and not just an instructor brought in by the program. Various research reports have proven that the D.A.R.E is the most popular program among parents and children. One survey conducted in 2007 showed that 95% of the children who participated in the study felt that the program had helped them and that they were confident that they would be able to resist drug abuse and alcohol consumption in the future if a situation where they had to choose presented itself. The same survey showed that 99% of the parents in the study were aware of the program and in support of it as it gave the desirable results in their children ("D.A.R.E. - Procon.Org"). Introducing an entirely unfamiliar program would lead to resistance from some a large number of parents as they know that the present program is working. Changing some issues in the program would, however, be supported since in every project there is always an evaluation that helps the team involved in finding defective areas and correcting them.
The third and final reason for not doing away with the D.A.R.E program is that starting an entirely new program would mean starting from scratch which would also mean testing waters where the directors of the new program will not be sure of what will be effective and what will not. As seen earlier, the D.A.R.E program has been in existence for over three decades, meaning that there is no well suited and equipped program than the D.A.R.E to handle children. The directors of the program have made many mistakes in the process to perfect the program. Starting a new one would mean going through the whole process that the D.A.R.E. program has gone through. Starting another program would need a lot of resources from the government or other sponsors. From the government, it would need money to help in researching on a program that would be presumed to work. After the study, it would require an entirely new training of the administrators, the people to run the program; new curriculum would be needed therefore a lot of money would be required. Other than money, a lot of time would be wasted on the program’s drawing board and even in the field will trying to introduce something that has never been in the areas where it will be applied.
The best way to deal with the issues every research institution seems to bring up which is dealing away with the program is redeveloping it. Redeveloping means going through the questions that have been put forward and the areas that have been pointed out as not working and finding out solutions for them. The leaders of the D.A.R.E program are the best people to handle the exercise because the criticisms have been directed to them. They are the people who know what exactly in the program works and what does not work. Among the areas that have been pointed out to have been the issue is that the program at the start seems to equip the participants who are children with lots of information and not allowing for sufficient time for critical elements (Rab, Sara). As a result, the students become more resistant and passive to the program. The leaders were able to eliminate the problem as they were able to limit information given and allowed more time. The same way all the other problems with the D.A.R.E program can be identified and eliminated hence achievement of a better future for the children.
The argument presented by those proposing termination of the program is valid as it brings issues that need consideration. The objective of the program was to help save as many children as possible from indulging in drug use. The D.A.R.E program has however not been able to achieve the huge number of children it is expected to. I would only be appropriate to terminate it and find other means that will maximize the number of children being influenced to stop and resist the use of drugs and any level of life, be it elementary school or even during their adult life. The argument presented also gives statistical data which cannot be disputed considering that it is obtained from authoritative researchers with no interest in seeing the downfall of the program but rather on the success of the children in being able to resist the use of drugs at their disposal.
The argument against termination of the program and replacing it with others is also valid. The case presents various reasons for the argument one of them being that the program assists in building a strong relationship between the police officers and the children participating in the program. The discussion presents a reasoning that cannot be disputed as it supports the relation in that the children are not afraid to speak to the authorities who help them in various aspects of their daily life. The relations are also helpful in fighting crime other than helping the children resist drugs. Without this, children will continue being afraid of the people who can provide real security other than their teachers or parents. The group also proposes a redevelopment of the program which will be able to maximize the number of children influenced to change by the program.
D.A.R.E program from the beginning of its inception in 1983 has been on the receiving end of a negative reputation. However, after considering both arguments on the program, it is inevitable to consider terminating it. With the alternative of the changes, it makes to the children participating rather that scraping it off. Therefore, the redevelopment argument is more valid than the one advocating for ending the program entirely.
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