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Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) is an international education program founded by Daryl Gates that seeks to prevent use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs, and violent behavior. DARE, which has expanded globally since its founding in 1983, is a demand-side drug control strategy of the American War on Drugs. Students who enter the program sign a pledge not to use drugs or join gangs and are taught by local police officers about the dangers of drug use in an interactive in-school curriculum which lasts ten weeks. DARE America has its headquarters in Inglewood, California.
Instructors of the DARE curriculum are local police officers who must undergo 80 hours of special training in areas such as child development, classroom management, teaching techniques, and communication skills. For high school instructors, 40 hours of additional training are prescribed. Police officers are invited by the local school districts to speak and work with students. Police officers are permitted to work in the classroom by the school district and do not need to be licensed teachers. There are programs for different age levels. Working with the classroom teachers, the officers lead students over a number of sessions on workbooks and interactive discussions.
The DARE program enables students to interact with police officers or sheriffs in a controlled, safe, classroom environment. This helps students and officers meet and understand each other in a friendly manner, instead of having to meet when a student commits a crime, or when officers must intervene in domestic disputes and severe family problems. The Surgeon General reports that positive effects have been demonstrated regarding attitudes towards the police.
It is also an important tertiary crime and violence prevention education program. The D.A.R.E. program cites cases where assertiveness and self-defense education helped prevent students from being harmed. D.A.R.E. officers also help schools when children are threatened, and their presence helps alleviate concerns about situations like school shootings and other threats of violence to children while at school.
In 2007, a new curriculum for prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter drug abuse was created by D.A.R.E. America. Other contributors included: law enforcement officials; PhRMA; Abbott Laboratories; the Consumer Healthcare and Products Association (CHPA); and a number of other organizations, including the ONDCP, the DEA, the FDA, the NIDA, the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Recently, D.A.R.E. adopted Penn State University's implementation of keepin' it REAL middle school curriculum, an evidence-based curriculum listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). keepin' it REAL is now being implemented in the US and worldwide by D.A.R.E. Keepin' it REAL has been developed since the late 90s at Arizona State University() as well as at Penn State University.
Starting in 5th grade, elementary students are given lessons to act in their own best interest when facing high-risk, low-gain choices and to resist peer pressure and other influences in making their personal choices regarding: Tobacco Smoking, Tobacco advertising, Drug Abuse, Inhalants, alcohol consumption and health, and Peer Pressure in a Social Network.
In 6th, 7th and 8th grades, the new keepin'it REAL middle school lessons are enhanced with activities on Teen OTC (over-the-counter)/Prescription Drug Abuse, Methamphetamine, Bullying, Gangs, Internet Safety, and more. Beginning in the fall of 2009, D.A.R.E. officers across the nation began to teach The keepin’ it REAL program which was developed in partnership with Penn State University. "The Keepin’ It REAL" curriculum has been identified as an Evidence-Based Program on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
In senior high school, D.A.R.E. is a reinforcement and "Equal emphasis is placed on helping students to recognize and cope with feelings of anger without causing harm to themselves or others and without resorting to violence or the use of alcohol and drugs."
According to the D.A.R.E. website, 36 million children around the world —26 million in the U.S. — are part of the program. The program is implemented in 75% of the nation's school districts, and 43 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. was one of the first national programs promoting zero tolerance. The D.A.R.E. program has received numerous accolades and awards for delivering the message to keep "kids off drugs" and remains widely popular.
As of 2009, despite deep Homeland Security budget cuts at state and federal law enforcement levels, DARE continues to graduate 20 million children worldwide annually. Its websites www.dare.com and www.dare.org receive 12 million hits every month and is a resource for parents, teachers, children and community members.
A number of local police departments D.A.R.E. programs have police cars marked as DARE cars to promote their program. The D.A.R.E. cars appear at schools and in parades. Typically these cars are high-end or performance cars that have been seized in a drug raid. They are used to send the message that drug dealers forfeit all their glamorous trappings when they get caught. D.A.R.E. cars can also be regular police vehicles that are nearing the end of their service life, pressed into service for the promotion, or new police cars outfitted especially for the D.A.R.E. program.
D.A.R.E. America is funded largely as a crime prevention program working through education within schools. It receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration, U.S. Office of Justice and Delinquency Prevention, corporations, foundations, individuals and other sources. In addition, state training and local programs typically receive funding from state legislature appropriations, state agencies, counties, cities, school districts, police agencies, individuals, and community fund raisers and other sources.
In 1998, the DARE program failed to meet federal guidelines that they be both research-based and effective. To date they have not met those guidelines, thereby disqualifying the organization from receiving further federal grant money.
D.A.R.E. (UK) is a national charity that operates across the UK. The program was originally delivered by Police Officers from the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) to children who attended schools on Garrison estates or located near Garrison areas.
DARE began its life in the UK in 1995 following 2 years of successful trials. It was made available to schools in Nottinghamshire and in the last academic year was delivered in 270 Primary schools. To operate on a more independent basis, DARE UK was established as a registered charity and along with its resources has undergone many changes to maintain its place within the world of education.
DARE (UK) aims to develop and deliver a range of educational resources to help children and young people acquire and use the knowledge, understanding and skills that equip them to live safe, healthy and productive lives in a world where drugs are
DARE Primary is a life skills and drug education program for 9-11 year olds. The course, consisting of 10 one hour sessions, aims to provide children with knowledge, skills, and an opportunity to explore attitudes, to help them to make informed decisions, and to develop safe and healthy lifestyles. Topics covered include, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, volatile substances, bullying, anti-social behavior, and different types of pressure. Children look at normative beliefs about alcohol and tobacco. The sessions are interactive and provide a range of learning opportunities through individual activities, teamwork, discussions, storyboards, and appropriate role play. DARE Primary can be delivered by:
• DARE Officer (Serving or former Police Officer, Police Community Support Officer)
• Teacher and DARE Officer where the Officer attends every other week (called 50/50)
• Teacher delivered (Teachers receive training from DARE)
Each student is provided with a DARE workbook for use during the course. DARE Officers and Teachers (where the Teacher delivered option is chosen) are provided with session guides. An important part of the program is the graduation ceremony which is an opportunity for families and schools to celebrate the children’s’ achievements.
The Primary program is now being delivered in the City of London, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, part of the Metropolitan Police area, the Falkland Islands and by the Royal Military Police in Germany, Cyprus and Malta.
DARE Active is principally led by DARE Champions, members of the community (professional and non professional) who are actively involved in teaching, training, supporting or coaching young people and are trained and licensed by DARE UK to deliver the resource. DARE Active consists of eight sessions which can be delivered as an eight-week programme or stand alone (a modular approach). It includes an optional celebration of achievement where guests can be invited to share the celebration or speak in a role model capacity. This opportunity lends itself to the local Policing teams attending and reinforcing some of the key messages.
DARE UK is planning the launch of a Secondary school programme during 2011 so it is available during the new academic year, Autumn, 2011. The curriculum and resources (including high quality DVD) will be an adaptation of the DARE America Middle School programme developed by Penn State University, USA. Current developments are taking place to ensure relevance and suitability for the UK.
It will follow on from the DARE Primary curriculum (although this is not essential) and is designed to help young people in years 7 and 8 deal with the many challenges they face during transition. It is expected that the programme will be delivered by teachers and DARE Officers.
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Researchers at Indiana University, commissioned by Indiana school officials in 1992, found that those who completed the D.A.R.E. program subsequently had significantly higher rates of hallucinogenic drug use than those not exposed to the program.
"Evaluators sometimes wish for a Fairy Godmother who would make decision makers pay attention to evaluation findings when choosing programs to implement. The U.S. Department of Education came close to creating such a Fairy Godmother when it required school districts to choose drug abuse prevention programs only if their effectiveness was supported by "scientific" evidence. The experience showed advantages of such a procedure (e.g., reduction in support for D.A.R.E., which evaluation had found wanting) but also shortcomings (limited and in some cases questionable evaluation evidence in support of other programs). Federal procedures for identifying successful programs appeared biased. In addition, the Fairy Godmother discounted the professional judgment of local educators and did little to improve the fit of programs to local conditions. Nevertheless, giving evaluation more clout is a worthwhile way to increase the rationality of decision making. The authors recommend research on procedures used by other agencies to achieve similar aims." 1992 - Indiana University
In 1994, three RTI International scientists evaluated eight previously-done quantitative analyses on DARE’s efficacy that were found to meet their requirements for rigor. The researchers found that DARE’s long-term effect couldn’t be determined, because the corresponding studies were “compromised by severe control group attrition or contamination.” However, the study concluded that in the short-term “DARE imparts a large amount of information, but has little or no impact on students’ drug use,” and that many smaller, interactive programs were more effective.
After the 1994 Research Triangle Institute study, an article in the Los Angeles Times stated that the “organization spent $41,000 to try to prevent widespread distribution of the RTI report and started legal action aimed at squelching the study.” The director of publication of the American Journal of Public Health told USA Today that "D.A.R.E. has tried to interfere with the publication of this. They tried to intimidate us."
In 1995, a report to the California Department of Education by Joel Brown Ph. D. stated that none of California's drug education programs worked, including D.A.R.E. "California's drug education programs, D.A.R.E. being the largest of them, simply don't work. More than 40 percent of the students told researchers they were 'not at all' influenced by drug educators or programs. Nearly 70 percent reported neutral to negative feelings about those delivering the antidrug [sic] message. While only 10 percent of elementary students responded to drug education negatively or indifferently, this figure grew to 33 percent of middle school students and topped 90 percent at the high school level." In some circles educators and administrators have admitted that DARE in fact potentially increased students exposure and knowledge of unknown drugs and controlled substances, resulting in experimentation and consumption of narcotics at a much younger age. Many consider it an utter failure and waste of tax-payer dollars, with either ineffective or negative results state-wide. 
In 1998, A grant from the National Institute of Justice to the University of Maryland resulted in a report to the NIJ, which among other statements, concluded that "D.A.R.E. does not work to reduce substance use." D.A.R.E. expanded and modified the social competency development area of its curriculum in response to the report. Research by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum in 1998, found that D.A.R.E. graduates were more likely than others to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and use illegal drugs. Psychologist Dr. William Colson asserted in 1998 that D.A.R.E. increased drug awareness so that "as they get a little older, they (students) become very curious about these drugs they've learned about from police officers." The scientific research evidence in 1998 indicated that the officers were unsuccessful in preventing the increased awareness and curiosity from being translated into illegal use. The evidence suggested that, by exposing young impressionable children to drugs, the program was, in fact, encouraging and nurturing drug use. Studies funded by the National Institute of Justice in 1998, and the California Legislative Analyst's Office in 2000 also concluded that the program was ineffective.
A ten-year study was completed by the American Psychological Association in 2006 involving one thousand D.A.R.E. graduates in an attempt to measure the effects of the program. After the ten-year period no measurable effects were noted. The researchers compared levels of alcohol, cigarette, marijuana and the use of illegal substances before the D.A.R.E. program (when the students were in sixth grade) with the post D.A.R.E. levels (when they were 20 years old). Although there were some measured effects shortly after the program on the attitudes of the students towards drug use, these effects did not seem to carry on long term.
In 2001, the Surgeon General of the United States, David Satcher M.D. Ph.D., placed the D.A.R.E. program in the category of "Ineffective Primary Prevention Programs". The U.S. General Accountability Office concluded in 2003 that the program was sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduated from D.A.R.E. later having higher than average rates of drug use (a boomerang effect).
Carol Weiss, Erin Murphy-Graham, Anthony Petrosino, and Allison G. Gandhi, “The Fairy Godmother—and Her Warts: Making the Dream of Evidence-Based Policy Come True,” American Journal of Evaluation, Vol. 29 No.1, 29-47(2008) Evaluators sometimes wish for a Fairy Godmother who would make decision makers pay attention to evaluation findings when choosing programs to implement. The U.S. Department of Education came close to creating such a Fairy Godmother when it required school districts to choose drug abuse prevention programs only if their effectiveness was supported by "scientific"evidence. The experience showed advantages of such a procedure (e.g., reduction in support for D.A.R.E., which evaluation had found wanting) but also shortcomings (limited and in some cases questionable evaluation evidence in support of other programs). Federal procedures for identifying successful programs appeared biased. In addition, the Fairy Godmother discounted the professional judgment of local educators and did little to improve the fit of programs to local conditions. Nevertheless, giving evaluation more clout is a worthwhile way to increase the rationality of decision making. The authors recommend research on procedures used by other agencies to achieve similar aims.
“The Social Construction of ‘Evidence-Based’ Drug Prevention Programs: A Reanalysis of Data from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program,” Evaluation Review,Vol. 33, No.4, 394-414 (2009). Studies by Dennis Gorman and Carol Weiss argue that the D.A.R.E. program has been held to a higher standard than other youth drug prevention programs. Gorman writes, “what differentiates D.A.R.E. from many of the programs on evidence-based lists might not be the actual intervention but rather the manner in which data analysis is conducted, reported, and interpreted.” Dennis M. Gorman and J. Charles Huber, Jr.
As the D.A.R.E. program has been subjected to increasing scrutiny over the years, its overall effectiveness has become something of a controversy and is still much debated.
The U.S. Department of Education prohibits any of its funding to be used to support drug prevention programs that have not been able to demonstrate their effectiveness. Accordingly, D.A.R.E. America, in 2004, instituted a major revision of its curriculum which is currently being evaluated for possible effectiveness in reducing drug use.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identified alternative start-up regional programs, none of which have longevity nor have they been subjected to intense scrutiny.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and mental health Services, National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices reviewed D.A.R.E.’s Keepin’ it REAL curricula. It meets NREPP's requirements as an evidence-based intervention in the categories of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=133
2005 The California Department of Education and California Department of Health’s Healthy Kids Resource Center lists D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL curriculum as being research validated. http://www.californiahealthykids.org/rvalidated
The D.A.R.E. program is consistent with the "zero-tolerance orthodoxy of current U.S. drug control policy." According to researcher Dr. D. M. Gorman of the Rutgers University Center of Alcohol Studies, it supports the ideology and the “prevailing wisdom that exists among policy makers and politicians." It also claims to meet the needs of stake holders such as school districts, parents, and law enforcement agencies. "D.A.R.E. America also has been very successful in marketing its program to the news media through a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign that highlights its popularity while downplaying criticism."
Marsha Rosenbaum, who headed the West Coast office of the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy reform organization, provided an opinion for a 1999 Village Voice article, "In D.A.R.E.'s worldview, Marlboro Light cigarettes, Bacardi rum, and a drag from a joint are all equally dangerous. For that matter, so is snorting a few lines of cocaine." D.A.R.E. "isn't really education. It's indoctrination." The article also stated, "Part of what makes D.A.R.E. so popular is that participants get lots of freebies. There are fluorescent yellow pens with the D.A.R.E. logo, tiny D.A.R.E. dolls, bumper stickers, graduation certificates, D.A.R.E. banners for school auditoriums, D.A.R.E. rulers, pennants, D.A.R.E. coloring books, and T-shirts for all D.A.R.E. graduates."
"Children are asked to submit to D.A.R.E. police officers sensitive written questionnaires that can easily refer to the kids' homes" and that "a D.A.R.E. lesson called 'The Three R's: Recognize, Resist, Report' … encourages children to tell friends, teachers or police if they find drugs at home."
In addition, "D.A.R.E. officers are encouraged to put a 'D.A.R.E. Box' in every classroom, into which students may drop 'drug information' or questions under the pretense of anonymity. Officers are instructed that if a student 'makes a disclosure related to drug use,' the officer should report the information to further authorities, both school and police. This apparently applies whether the 'drug use' was legal or illegal, harmless or harmful. In a number of communities around the country, students have been enlisted by the D.A.R.E. officer as informants against their parents."
"In the official D.A.R.E. Implementation Guide, police officers are advised to be alert for signs of children who have relatives who use drugs. D.A.R.E. officers are first and foremost police officers and thus are duty-bound to follow up leads that might come to their attention through inadvertent or indiscreet comments by young children."
As a result, "children sometimes confide the names of people they suspect are illegally using drugs. A mother and father in Caroline County, Maryland, were jailed for 30 days after their daughter informed a police D.A.R.E. instructor that her parents had marijuana plants in their home, according to a story in The Washington Post in January 1993. The Wall Street Journal reported in 1992 that ‘In two recent cases in Boston, children who had tipped police stepped out of their homes carrying D.A.R.E. diplomas as police arrived to arrest their parents.’ In 1991, 10-year-old Joaquin Herrera of Englewood, Colorado, phoned 911, announced, ‘I'm a D.A.R.E. kid’ and summoned police to his house to discover a couple of ounces of marijuana hidden in a bookshelf, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The boy sat outside his parents' home in a police patrol car while the police searched the home and arrested the parents. The policeman assigned to the boy's school commended the boy's action.
D.A.R.E. America has generally dismissed many criticisms and independent studies of its program, labeling them false, misleading, or biased. "D.A.R.E. has long dismissed criticism of its approach as flawed or the work of groups that favor decriminalization of drug use," according to the New York Times in 2001. In a press release titled "Pro-drug Groups Behind Attack on Prevention Programs; D.A.R.E. Seen as Target as Mayors' Conference Called to Combat Legalization Threat," D.A.R.E. asserted that pro-drug legalization individuals and groups were behind criticisms of the program, which were portrayed as based on "vested interests" and "to support various individual personal agendas at the expense of our children."
D.A.R.E. has attacked critics for allegedly being motivated by their financial self-interest in programs that compete with D.A.R.E.. It has charged that "they are setting out to find ways to attack our programs and are misusing science to do it. The bottom line is that they don't want police officers to do the work, because they want it for themselves." Critics have also been dismissed as being jealous of D.A.R.E.'s success.
Ronald J. Brogan, New York City's D.A.R.E. fundraiser and spokesperson, said in 1999 that "If you take German for 17 weeks, you're not going to speak German. The critics say the effect dissipates over the years. No shit, Sherlock. Is that supposed to be surprising?" The article in which he was quoted observed that "DARE officials say the solution to this problem is not less DARE but more of it, and they urge cities to teach DARE in middle and high school."
One leader explained that "I don't have any statistics for you. Our strongest numbers are the numbers that don't show up.” The 1998 University of Maryland report presented to the U.S. National Institute of Justice stated, "Officials of D.A.R.E. America are often quoted as saying that the strong public support for the program is a better indicator of its utility than scientific studies."
In 2009, D.A.R.E. adopted the keepin’ it REAL curriculum. keepin’ it REAL is an evidence-based, theoretically- and culturally-grounded substance use prevention program for primary and secondary school students. Rather than solely focusing on the perils of alcohol and drugs, keepin’ it REAL utilizes socio-emotional learning theory and a life skills approach to conceptualize substance use resistance as a situated, contextualized process and emphasizes communication competence as central to effective resistance strategies. keepin’ it REAL also is unique because of its culturally grounded approach that acknowledges the importance of cultural differences and similarities in the effectiveness of communication strategies and norms surrounding substance use. Two randomized clinical trials showed the effectiveness of the multicultural keepin’ it REAL for reducing substance use across grade levels and ethnic/racial groups, which highlights the importance of grounding substance use prevention programs in their audiences’ cultural attitudes, values, norms, and beliefs.
Since keepin’ it REAL, a program developed at Arizona State University () and Pennsylvania State University, was designed as a school-based program to be implemented by teachers, the creators of the program at the Pennsylvania State University worked with D.A.R.E. to adapt it for police officers. Formative research was conducted to determine the most appropriate way to adapt keepin’ it REAL to police-officer culture rather than teacher culture, and D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL is now being implemented and evaluated in the U.S. and in other countries.