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Drug Abuse Resistance Education, better known as DARE or D.A.R.E., is an international education program, for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, which seeks to discourage interest in illegal drugs, gangs, and violence. DARE, which has expanded globally since its founding in 1983, is the major demand-side drug control strategy of the U.S. War on Drugs. Students who enter the latest of over a dozen versions of the program sign a pledge to never use drugs or join gangs and are taught by local law enforcement about the dangers of drug use in a high-tech, interactive, ten week in-school curriculum. According to the DARE website, 36 million children around the world— 26 million in the U.S.— are part of the program. The program is implemented in 80% of the nation's school districts, and 54 countries around the world.

Brief history and overview

DARE America, a national non-profit organization, was founded in 1983 by Los Angeles Police chief Daryl Gates. DARE America is the main resource center that provides officer training, supports the development and evaluation of the DARE curriculum, provides student educational materials, monitors instruction standards and program results, and creates national awareness for both community and national chapters of the program. The DARE program has since become pervasively used throughout the U.S. and in several other countries. It has received numerous accolades and awards for its attempts at "keeping kids off drugs".

The instructors of the DARE curriculum are local police officers who must undergo 80 hours of special training in areas such as child development, classroom management, teaching techniques, and communication skills. For high school instructors, 40 hours of additional training are prescribed.

The course is complemented by a variety of activities aimed at children, such as DARE songs which the students sing together, as well as t-shirts, plastic cards, pins, and other accessories. Playing off the acronym (and playing up the commercialism), many of these collectibles bear the sentence "D.A.R.E. to keep kids off drugs" and "D.A.R.E. to say no".

Several spin-off or inspired programs, such as DECIDE, have also been introduced for use in elementary school (and, to a lesser extent, junior high school) classrooms.


DARE has fallen under heavy criticism from various sources. The most common complaint is that it is ineffective, and that there is no proof that students who go through the DARE program are any less likely to use drugs.

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in 2003 that the DARE program is ineffective and now prohibits its funds from being used to support it.(Zernike) The U.S. Surgeon General's office,the National Acadedmy of Sciences, (Zernike) and the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) have also concluded that the program is ineffective.(Kanof) The GAO also concluded that the program is sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduate from DARE later having higher rates of drug use. Studies by by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum (Rosenbaum), and by the California Legislative Analyst's office (Bovard) found that DARE graduates were more likely than others to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and take illegal drugs.

Administrators of the DARE program have tried to suppress unfavorable research by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) that found that "DARE simply didn't work". A Federal judge ruled that DARE had sought to "suppress scientific research" critical of its program and had "attempted to silence researchers at the Research Triangle Institute, editors at the American Journal of Public Health, and producers at Dateline NBC." Some reporters, like those at Rolling Stone magazine, who have written negative stories on DARE have claimed that they were the victims of harassment and intimidation as a result. Sources, such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy, DRCNet, and Drugsense, have accused DARE of teaching misleading and inaccurate information about drugs and drug use.

The policy of alowing or even encouraging anonymous reporting of drug use by other students, or even parents and teachers, has created resentment and raised important issues about both student rights and family rights to privacy.

Some argue that DARE's 'Just Say No' messages mislead by lumping all drugs from beer to heroin in the same category.

Some observers argue that DARE should be replaced by programs of proven effectiveness. Regardless of these and many other criticisms, DARE still remains widely popular.

See also


External links

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