Detroit News Shows How DARE Fails Kids

Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000
Subject: Detroit News Shows How DARE Fails Kids

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 162 March 1, 2000

Detroit News Shows How DARE Fails Kids


DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 162 March 1, 2000

The Detroit News ran several articles on the DARE program this week.
Like others who have attempted to take an objective look at the widely
used “drug education” program, editorialists at the newspaper
concluded that the DARE program doesn’t have any measurable effect on
drug use. The editorial also notes that DARE “may even be making
matters worse.” (See the editorial and links to other articles from
the series below.)

While the series of articles contains the standard apologies from DARE
supporters who like the program because it makes them feel good, the
scope of the series allows some critics of DARE to have their say
without being contradicted. In particular, the article “Some Schools
Opt Out Of Program” (
gives school administrators a chance to say why they dropped the
program without having to respond to criticism from DARE supporters.

Please write a letter to the Detroit News to thank for the series and
to express support for the conclusion that DARE has failed kids.

Thanks for your effort and support.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list ( if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to Your letter will then
be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts
and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: Detroit News (MI)


US MI: Editorial: Drugs: Dare to be Honest
Newshawk: MAP – Making a Difference with Your Help
Pubdate: Tue, 29 Feb 2000
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2000, The Detroit News


Index for the D.A.R.E. FAILING OUR KIDS series: Sun, 27 Feb

D.A.R.E. Doesn’t Work

DARE Wary Of Outside Reviews

Some Schools Opt Out Of Program

Officers Become School Favorites

Officers Hope To Make A Difference

Analysis Tracks Students’ Drug Use

Mon, 28 Feb 2000:

DARE’s Clout Smothers Other Drug Programs

Raves Thrive As Teen Drug Havens

Parents Struggle When Discussing Drugs With Teens

Tips For Parents

Parents’ Anti-Drug Resource Guide [many website links]

Tue, 29 Feb 2000:

Editorial: Drugs: Dare to be Honest

Readers: Cops Key to DARE Success, Failure



A two-part series by The Detroit News reported that DARE, the
multibillion-dollar, nationwide drug prevention program, is making no
difference in lowering teenage drug or alcohol use in Metro Detroit .
It may even be making matters worse. These findings confirm at least
a dozen previous national studies.

It may be time for schools to return responsibility for the matter to
families — where it properly belongs.

The News’ investigation, based on surveys by Western Michigan
University of eighth, 10th and 12th graders in Metro Detroit every two
years, found that kids who have undergone the program are just as
likely to use drugs as those who have not. Although some schools in
recent years have dropped DARE, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance
Education, the program is still offered in 70 of the 88 area
districts. Yet, according to The News, 60 percent of Detroit area
seniors admit to trying drugs, compared with 55 percent nationally.

Despite mounting evidence about DARE’s ineffectiveness, the program,
in which uniformed police officers teach fifth and sixth graders how
to resist peer pressure, remains hugely popular. Indeed, the federal
government alone spends $2 billion annually on the program – with
local grants, local fund raisers and donations pouring in millions
more. More than $2 million is spent on the program in Metro Detroit.

Although DARE has used this money to preach drug abstinence for a
quarter of a century, drug use in America has gone up in recent years:
A University of Michigan study two years ago found that marijuana use
among eighth graders tripled between 1991 to 1996. Similarly, other
studies have found a slight increase in drug use among suburban kids
who have taken DARE.

It is difficult to definitively link this increase with DARE. But the
program relies on scare scenarios and blanket proscription to drive
home the danger of drug use. Yet, researchers speculate, when
children discover these exaggerations, they abandon all caution,
creating a “boomerang” effect.

Whatever the cause of the observed increase, it is clear that the
program does not provide a life-time inoculation against drug abuse.
Some of DARE’s critics suggest replacing the program with its message
of zero tolerance with others that emphasize how to deal with the
consequences of drug use, such as an overdose. This sounds realistic,
but may have the perverse effect of encouraging drug use by discussing
ways to make it safe.

Drug and alcohol use is a complicated matter that simply is not
amenable to a full and nuanced exploration in the classroom. It may
be time to bring parents and families back into the equation and
encourage them to design their own specific message for their own
kids: Lulling them into a false sense of security with feel-good
programs is a disservice to all.

Our View

Mounting evidence that DARE, the drug-abuse prevention program, is
ineffective ought to cause area schools to rethink their commitment to

Opposing View

DARE is widely popular anti-drug school program that ought to be



To the Editor of the Detroit News,

Thank you for the series exploring the failure of DARE. The editorial
“Drugs: DARE to be Honest,” was particularly insightful when it discussed
the “boomerang” effect of DARE. When young people realize that DARE
officers and others have been exaggerating the dangers of marijuana, they
naturally wonder whether warnings about more destructive drugs are
exaggerated as well.

Of course, this problem is not unique to DARE. It plagues the whole
big, dumb, destructive war on drugs. Anti-drug crusaders don’t want
honesty. They are offended by objective analysis, like that offered by
the Detroit News. These crusaders may be successful at fooling
themselves, but they aren’t fooling many of the kids they are
supposedly trying to save. And in the process, these young people are
learning troubling lessons, not only about drugs, but about the nature
of authority. When I was young, I was taught that honesty is the best
policy. Will the drug warriors who blindly support DARE ever learn
that lesson for themselves?

Stephen Young

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Prepared by Stephen Young – Focus
Alert Specialist