Mario Cuomo and William Bennett held a joint news conference to announce that they would be co-chairing the Partnership for a Drug Free America. The former political rivals will try to raise money for the airing of Partnership public Service Announcements. The Partnership has been criticized by some experts for producing anti-drug messages that are simplistic and often hyperbolic. Their web site, which is a little bit smoother than some of their ads, can be found at http://www.drugfreeamerica.org.
A study released this week at a conference of the American Psychological Association shows that the nation's most widely taught drug prevention curriculum, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, has no effect on teenage drug use. The study, the first to look at students 6 years removed from DARE, backed up what similar studies had found in students immediately after and three years removed from the program. The program purports to teach students the dangers of drug use and gangs, as well as the importance of respecting authority and resisting peer pressure. DARE consists of seventeen classes taught to fifth and sixth grade classes by police officers.
Students who had been through the program were no less likely than non-participants to use alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana. DARE also had no impact on time spent on homework, number of classes skipped, educational aspirations or respect for teachers. There were also no differences between participants and non-participants in incidents of fighting, assault, theft, trespass, curfew violation or gang membership.
It is estimated that as many as 70% of American public school students participate in the DARE program, which is run by a private, for-profit corporation under contract to local school systems.
For more information, check out DRCNet's "A Different Look at DARE" at http://www.drcnet.org/DARE. DARE's own web site can be found at http://www.dare-america.com. Additional information is online at <http://www.dare.org>.