EDUCATION. The program was developed and instituted nearly 20 years ago and has
expanded from California to all 50 states. It is currently being taught to more than 36 million children worldwide. Its theory is simple, that when school children in the
elementary levels are reached with positive educational information on how to resist
drugs, deal with peer pressure, and given alternatives to violence they will have the tools
necessary to deal with these problems later in life . We now have 20 years of research
data on whether this program was a worthy endeavor and the views are mixed. This
paper will present information on DARE from its inception to date and let you
decide for yourself.
In the year 1983, in Los Angeles California, then Police Chief Daryl Gates recognized that despite an intensive attack on the drug trade every year more and more teenagers became users, thus perpetuating drugs and violence. In Los Angeles alone more than half of all the murders and bank robberies committed in 1983 were found to be drug related. Chief Gates felt in order to stem teenagers from becoming drug users he had to reach them before they came of age. It was Chief Gates belief that that the present generation had already surrendered to drug dependency and that the country’s future lied with the readiness of children to resist future involvement. He knew that in order to accomplish this the Los Angeles Police Department needed to form a partnership with educators. He hoped that this would give a venue to his officers providing them with a forum to introduce this anti drug education. Chief Gates then teamed up with Dr. Ruth Rich, a health education specialist from the Los Angeles Unified School District, to adopt
the first DARE curriculum. In this early stage the program was a basic one. Its foundation lied upon three principals:
Resisting peer pressure, Self-management skills, and Alternatives to drug use. The
program initially was implemented using 10 Los Angeles police officers that were
required to complete an intensive 80 hour training course. In the programs first year
these officers taught in 50 Los Angeles elementary schools and reached over 80,000
5th and 6th grade students.
The initial reaction was very positive. The DARE program received much support from the Federal Government, law enforcement agencies, educators, and parents alike. This widespread support and promotion led to federal funding of the program and the branching out and training of officers from across the country. As the program developed so did its curriculum. Presently, it has expanded to adapt to not only 5th and 6th grades but now has targeted children from kindergarten through high school. The program objectives have expanded as well. They have evolved from the initial three to the following nine: 1) Acquiring the knowledge and skills to recognize and resist peer pressure to experiment with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. 2) Enhancing self-esteem. 3) Learning assertiveness techniques. 4) Learning about positive alternatives to substance abuse 5) Developing risk assessment and decision making skills.
6) Learning anger management and conflict resolution skills. 7) Reducing violence. 8) Building interpersonal and communications skills. 9) Resisting gang involvement. The initial support and lauding of the DARE program was somewhat short lived. By the mid 1990’s studies began to be completed which allegedly found that DARE did not prevent future substance abuse. Critics cited that after nearly a decade DARE continued to follow the same workbook. That the curriculum contained in the workbook made no provision or adjustment for the background of the individual student. During this time DARE had branched out and was being taught to nearly 36 million