Honors English 10
December 18, 2013
Efficient Drug Awareness and Use Prevention by D.A.R.E.
The D.A.R.E. program has been an extremely controversial subject where many have discussed if it is truly an operative program. First to explain the basics and mission of the program, it must initially start when it was “invented”. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE for short, was developed in 1983 “as a joint effort between the Los Angeles County (Calif.) School District and the Los Angeles Police Department”
The primary goal of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) is to teach effective peer resistance and refusal skills so that adolescents can say “no” to drugs and their friends who may want them to use drugs. The secondary goals of the program are to build students’ social skills and enhance their self-esteem, as these are believed to be linked to adolescent drug use (Rosenbaum, n.d.).
Even though this was back in ’83, it should have begun longer ago since its targeted problem has persisted since the dawn of its creation. Now the controversy begins with the question, “Is it really effective?” or “Does it actually make kids say no to drugs?” Now as always there is a disclaimer. For starters, Dr. Hanson says, “it is based on out-dated theories of learning and human behavior” (Hanson, 1997-2013). Now that makes sense with such a program with an “aged” lifetime. DARE however, has such a great history of accommodations, adaptations, and corrections. As all happenings, there is always room for improvement. The greatest part about DARE is that it works and teaches along with uniformed law enforcement (Jersey Village Police, 2011). This as a start, allows the youthful students to feel comfortable around police officers and county sheriffs. Altogether, it makes a decrease in criminal statuses. Since the students see the officers as servicemen who only have the desire to help and not judge, they will in the future keep their criminal record hopefully clean, but ideally low on crimes. Following the created comfort zone, officers can be honest and maybe even frank with the students about true statistics or saddening life realities. That is where DARE comes into play. One of the first principles that is taught by the DARE team and complying officers is the Gateway Drug. This is defined by DARE as “a drug that opens the door to the use of other, harder drugs. Gateway drugs are typically inexpensive and readily available” (Keeping Kids Drug Free, 2013). It then leads on to the more harmful and extreme list of real drugs and addictive substances. Now, too many ignorant people feel that these extremities will never cross their path. This might be true if they were first educated and gained the knowledge of the gateway drug, which as stated before is the first lesson introduced in the curriculum. The next concept taught is how to say no to drugs and why it is important to have a set mindset in the earliest age possible that can retain the memory and act upon the decision. And the lesson plans that follow are just perfectly packed with insightful information. “The benefits of the DARE and CARE program are many. Kids learn how to say no to drugs, alcohol, and gangs, and how to have positive self-esteem" (CARE: Preventing Substance Abuse, 2001). One of the greater improvements done by DARE is the way the program lesson plans were projected and taught. “The old DARE” as some have said it, was basically an officer standing behind a podium preaching to kids sitting in straight rows. That has obviously kept a major delay in the attention span of these students. New D.A.R.E. officers are trained as “coaches” to support kids who are using research-based refusal strategies in high-stakes peer-pressure environments” (Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention Inside the 21st Century School House, July 20, 2004). This was a great improvement done by the DARE