Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) is a popular and widely used anti-drug program in many of our nation's schools. It has been the subject of a number of rigorous experimental evaluation studies as well as many not-so-rigorous ones. Scientifically sound studies have failed to find any short or long-term effects of D.A.R.E. on drug use.
Out of thirty-one schools, twenty-three were randomly assigned to receive D.A.R.E. in the sixth grade while the other eight received whatever drug education was provided in their classes. Participants were assessed yearly through the 10th grade and recontacted when they were 20 years old. The results were that the D.A.R.E. program had no effect on students' drug use at any time through 10th grade. The 10-year follow-up failed to find any "sleeper" effects (i.e., effects showing up later that were not present earlier). At age 20, there were no differences between those who received D.A.R.E.
and those who did not in their use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs; expectancies about these drugs; or levels of peer pressure resistance. The only difference was that those who received D.A.R.E. reported slightly lower levels of self-esteem at age 20.
Yet, one, man argues "The survey, which is one of the very few credible national measures of drug abuse, reports a statistically significant decline of 13 percent in teen drug abuse during 1998. Today, the D.A.R.E. program is taught in more than 80 percent of all U.S. school districts, benefiting 26 million students this year alone. Clearly, D.A.R.E. has played a pivotal role in helping reverse the direction of teen drug use in America" (Glenn Levant, D.A.R.E. is helping to stem drug abuse).
The program uses lectures, role playing and other techniques to teach children to avoid drugs. And by all accounts, the kids who take...