School Anti-Drug Programs Get Failing Grade, Study Says 8/9/02

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The top three anti-drug programs used by schools are either ineffective or unproven despite the millions of dollars thrown at them and their wide use in schools across the country, according to a meta-analysis of existing research on the programs conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina.

The announcement marked yet another blow to the nation's most widely used school anti-drug program, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), which has been pummeled by research in recent years showing it to be ineffective or even counterproductive. Despite its proven failures, DARE has been used in 80% of the nation's schools. Notorious for using uniformed police officers as classroom instructors and tacitly encouraging children to turn in their parents, DARE is already embarked on a five-year study to reevaluate its curriculum. Now it has yet another reason to get at it.

DARE was criticized by name by the researchers, along with McGruff's Crime Prevention and the Here's Looking at You 2000 program. In the study, published Saturday in Health Education Reports (available online only if you have $310 to subscribe to the journal), the researchers wrote that the three programs haven't shown the kind of results schools expected despite years of use.

"It's not a very good use of taxpayer money," substance abuse prevention researcher Denise Hallfors told the Associated Press. According to the study, although the federal government has tried for the past decade to promote anti-drug programs with a proven track record, many school districts use "heavily marketed curricula that have not been evaluated, have been evaluated inadequately or have been shown to be ineffective in reducing substance abuse."

The study, which also surveyed 104 school districts in 11 states and the District of Columbia, reported that even schools that use proven programs fail to provide adequate financial support for them, fail to train teachers properly, and fail to use all the available materials. Only one out of three districts that used research-based anti-drug programs used them effectively, the study found. Hallfors also noted that federal funding for school drug prevention programs -- about $5 per child per year -- is too low to have much effect. Schools with anti-drug programs need to hire full-time coordinators, Hallfors said. "If you're getting $4,000 a year, you're not able to hire that person."

DARE, meanwhile, has changed mascots. The DARE bear is being replaced by Daren-the-Lion because of licensing problems, according to the DARE Training Center in Alexandria, VA. "Daren is a proud and brave symbol who also is kid-friendly," a DARE employee there said. "The Disney people designed him to appeal to youngsters and help DARE get its message across." DARE hopes to profit from sales of Daren-the-Lion toys and action figures. Maybe that money can help DARE create an effective, non-propagandistic drug prevention program -- but probably not.

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Issue #249, 8/9/02 Nevada Marijuana Initiative Endorsed by State's Largest Police Group | DC Board of Elections Rejects Medical Marijuana Petitions -- Admits One of Seven Valid Signatures Ignored but Refuses to Correct Error | Democratic Governor Candidate Calls for Repeal of NY Rockefeller Laws | Switzerland Defends Cannabis Decrim, Tells UN Narcocrats to Buzz Off | Which War Am I In? DEA Meth Offensive Continues as US Pilots in Afghanistan Gobble Speed | Libertarian Party Launches TV Ad Campaign Targeting Rep. Bob Barr on Medical Marijuana | Drug Czar Picks Beer-Promoting NASCAR Hot Rodder to Carry Anti-Drug Message | School Anti-Drug Programs Get Failing Grade, Study Says | Drug Dog Terrorizes Native American Kindergartners in South Dakota, Lawsuit Filed | Newsbrief: South Dakota Lakota Successfully Harvest Hemp Crop | Newsbrief: Peru Backs Off on Coca Eradication, Again | Newsbrief: Radical Party Moscow Activists Go to Trial for Marijuana Legalization Rally -- Free Speech at Heart of Case | Newsbrief: Federal Judge Deems Utah Asset Forfeiture Initiative Constitutional | Newsbrief: Canadian NAFTA Suit Over Hemp Restrictions Enters Arbitration | Newsbrief: More than One Million in Drug Treatment in US, SAMHSA Says | Newsbrief: Budget Woes Close Detox, Treatment Facilities in NC, Iowa | Newsbrief: Stiffer Ecstasy Penalties Would Hit Penn State University | Newsbrief: Study Finds THC-like Chemicals Useful for Certain Disorders | Newsbrief: Archeological Evidence of Bronze Age Drug Trade | Web Scan: Narco News, Nature, Cato | Legislative Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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