For years and years the school systems have relied on a drug education program called DARE, which is short for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. The program has been rendered ineffective by scientifically based studies but that never stopped funding for it because of its popularity and well-known name. Politics and lobbying also helped to keep it afloat.
The National Academy of Sciences has indisputable evidence that the DARE program is not effective at reducing alcohol and drug use by youths. Because of this the U.S. Department of Education has cut off federal spending on DARE. In fact, not only has DARE been ineffective the numbers of children and teens that are abusing drugs has increased dramatically.
Many people feel that DARE and other programs like it glamorize drugs and fuel these kids’ interests in drugs. Some call it the forbidden fruit syndrome. The DARE program is delivered by police officers and that is another problem that some have, police are not licensed teachers. The result has been more students now do drugs, and they start using drugs at an earlier age.
There are many reasons why DARE has not worked. First, it almost glamorizes drugs in the way that it is presented; it sends a mixed message, and it creates stereotypes that can hurt down the road. These stereotypes can be a killer later on if kids do fall into the hands of drugs. After all, why try, they were taught that drugs are for losers.
Anti-Drug programs need to consist of messages that de-glamorize drug education and offer hope. These programs should not be separated and make as a big deal. Instead, they should be just another part of a broad health curriculum and taught as ways to improve the quality of life. Kids must also be taught how to make good decisions and how to have self-respect.
The resolution does not lie just with the schools and programs. Parents play probably the most important roles. Parents must keep the lines of communication with their children wide open at all times. They must monitor what their kids watch on TV and they also need to hold the schools that they send their kids to accountable. Make sure the school sends an honest, positive message that includes models of abstinence, moderation, and responsibility.
Next, the lawmakers have to have some accountability too. They are the cornerstones of the law and they need to make the laws fair. The current messages that are sent to children are confusing. Kids want to know why it is ok to drink alcohol but people go to prison for marijuana. Once these programs can come up with a plan where they are all on the same page it is likely that the programs will display numbers that show a decrease in drug use among kids as opposed to an increase.