Is The D.A.R.E Program Effective?
D.A.R.E. is an acronym for: Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Project D.A.R.E. is a program that was introduced by the federal government, nationwide, in 1983 and ended in 2009. It is a self-proclaimed “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.” It was developed by police officers and teachers in Los Angeles. Project D.A.R.E. became recognized as an ineffective program because it largely failed to prevent drug use. It did, however, serve as an excellent starting point for prevention scientists to work with D.A.R.E. America, the nonprofit organization that administered the program, to cultivate and refine a new, more effective program that directly caters to today’s adolescents, called keepin’ it REAL.
There were several follow-up studies conducted to discern the effectiveness of Project D.A.R.E.:
- American Psychological Association (APA) Project DARE 10 year follow-up: ran a study with 1002 subjects that received D.A.R.E. education in the 6th grade and found that the program had no meaningful impact on rates of drug use, self-esteem, or attitudes towards drugs.
- The University of Illinois carried out a study that found the D.A.R.E. program to be counter-productive with students who participated, as they were more likely to use drugs.
- Research gathered by the National Institute of Justice found the program to have some effect, but only on a modest scale.
According to the Scientific American scientist concluded that “despite being the nation’s most popular substance abuse prevention program, D.A.R.E. did not make you less likely to become a drug addict or even to refuse that first beer from your friends.” Although there was a clear intention to take proactive measures, attempting to sufficiently arm youth against the war on drugs, unfortunately, Program D.A.R.E. failed.
keepin’ it REAL (kiR)
Building off some of the concepts of Program D.A.R.E., keepin’ it REAL is a course that was shaped by prevention specialists. According to Real Prevention, “keepin’ it REAL (kiR) is a scientifically proven, effective substance use prevention and social and emotional competency enhancing program designed to focus on the competencies linked to preventing substance use and abuse.” In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General expressed support for keepin’ it Real and featured it as a cost-effective and powerful program. The substance-abuse curriculum includes interactive lessons that focus on elementary and middle school students’ decisions, not drugs.
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