Media Alert: DARE Criticized in Houston 8/28/98

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An article in the Houston Chronicle yesterday (8/27) reported that a Houston study had found the city's $3.7 million/year DARE program to be "only marginally successful" in discouraging young people from using drugs. Social Sciences professor Bruce Gay concluded "there is very little compelling evidence to suggest that the primary goal of the DARE program is being reached at a statistically significant level."

Nevertheless, Houston Mayor Lee Brown (former US Drug Czar) insists that "DARE does work," and has opposed efforts by some members of the city council to scale back the program. Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford also insists that the program works, and that they will be able to use the study results to find ways to make it work better. Brown is himself a former Houston police chief.

Please send letters to the Chronicle, asking why the Mayor and Police Chief prefer that Houston's children go through an ineffective program, when numerous more effective programs are available. Brown and Bradford's insistence on sticking with the less effective program is likely to result in higher rates of drug use among kids than could otherwise be the case. For example, a Washington think tank called Drug Strategies (http://www.drugstrategies.com) has published a report called "Making the Grade," which discusses 34 drug prevention programs and 14 general health programs available to school systems. Even better still might be "harm-reduction" based programs, such as that designed by Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (http://www.mamas.org).

One of the reasons that police like the DARE program is that it brings police into more contact with youth, which the police naturally regard as a positive (and which often is positive, though there are horror stories of DARE kids turning in their parents for drug possession, not realizing that it will result in the arrest of the parents, sometimes resulting in the breakup of the family). But in any case, the purpose of the program is to keep kids of drugs; building relationships between youth and police is a secondary goal at best.

You can read the Houston Chronicle article online at http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/page1/98/08/27/dare_2-1.html (or go to http://www.chron.com and click on "news" if that link doesn't work). You may have to register for a free account before you are able to view the page. Send your response to [email protected], and be sure to include your name, mailing address and phone number. Letters to the editor typically need to be under 200 words to get published. As usual, please send us copies of your letters, to [email protected].

A substantial amount of information about DARE is available on DRCNet's web site at http://www.drcnet.org/DARE/. A DARE discussion group is hosted by Calyx Internet Access, at [email protected] (Send e-mail to [email protected] with the line "subscribe dare-list your name" in the body of the message, to join the discussion.)

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Issue #56, 8/28/98 Household Survey Reports: Teen Marijuana Use Up Again | Trial In Canada Brings Medical Marijuana To National Attention | Private Researcher Plants First Medical Marijuana Crop | Media Alert: DARE Criticized in Houston | News Briefs | New DRCNet Mailing Lists | Events | Editorial: Spin, You Win
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