Government Continues to Tout Failed Program While Study After Study Show No Effect on Teenage Drug Use <br> Drug Policy Alliance: "Just Say No" Will not Keep our Teens Safe
President George Bush has declared April 14, 2005 National D.A.R.E. Day. In response, the Drug Policy Alliance criticized the President's endorsement of D.A.R.E., a failed program that has no effect on teen drug use. Despite D.A.R.E.'s abstinence-only anti-alcohol education, drinking and driving remains one of the leading causes of death among teenagers, leading to some 1500 deaths annually.
"Just say No is a nice slogan, but despite all the millions of dollars we've poured into D.A.R.E., it hasn't worked," said Marsha Rosenbaum, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance's Safety 1st program. "A majority of high-school students will end up trying alcohol and marijuana before they graduate. Even the President's own daughters were busted for underage drinking. We need to prioritize our teenagers' safety, provide real education, and leave the rhetoric behind."
In 1983, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles School District launched Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or "D.A.R.E." Since then, numerous studies have shown the program ineffective at deterring young people from experimenting with drugs.
In January of 2003 the U.S. General Accounting Office found "no significant differences in illicit drug use between students who received D.A.R.E. and students who did not." In 2001 the U.S. Surgeon General placed D.A.R.E. under the category of "ineffective programs." And mayors in numerous cities across the country, including New York City, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Oakland have removed D.A.R.E. from the public school curriculum. D.A.R.E. America, the non-profit group that creates and sells the curricula, estimates the annual costs of police officer services alone to be about $215 million.
Critics say that D.A.R.E. is not only ineffective and a waste of taxpayer money, but that it can actually put young people in harm's way by disallowing honest drug education for those students who may say maybe or yes to alcohol and other drugs. According to the most recent Monitoring the Future survey, half of all high school seniors experiment with illegal drugs at some point in their lifetime, and three-fourths use alcohol. Rather than an abstinence-only approach to drug education, as with comprehensive sex education, critics charge that young people would be better served by honest, science-based information and ways to stay out of trouble with alcohol and other drugs.