Antidrug Programs Revamped 

Antidrug Programs Revamped 
Posted by CN Staff on January 19, 2003 at 08:37:42 PT
By Gail Spector, Globe Correspondent
Source: Boston Globe 
After 14 years of teaching the Drug Abuse Resistance Education curriculum to Newton's fifth-graders, the School Department has abandoned it and has begun a prevention program that focuses largely on parental involvement and is targeted to all middle-school children. DARE, among the most popular school drug-prevention programs in the country, has been criticized as having limited long-term effectiveness, according to Suzi Kaitz, health and drug-alcohol education specialist for the Newton schools. 
The School Department decided to make a switch, she said, because of ''the awareness that there were other programs that had more impact.'' National research on the new dual curriculum, which includes the Project Northland and Project Alert programs, shows decreased substance abuse among participants, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Project Northland, a middle-school curriculum that the Newton schools is using for sixth grade, reported 46 percent lower alcohol use among students who completed the curriculum nationwide. The seventh- and eighth-grade curriculum, Project Alert, reported 60 percent decreased marijuana use and 33 to 55 percent decreased cigarette smoking. Both are designated as model programs by the federal agency, while DARE is not. ''I think that DARE was a decent and well-thought-out prevention program,'' Kaitz said. ''What we have learned is that [prevention education] could not be a one-shot deal. DARE only did this in fifth grade, which may have been a little young. It's really about having a program that continues to offer more and more in an age-appropriate way.'' Like DARE, the new curriculum brings Newton police officers into the classroom. ''If DARE did anything, it certainly helped to develop good relations between youth, police and schools, and with the kids,'' Kaitz said. A major difference, though, between DARE and the current curriculum is parental or guardian involvement, said Newton Youth Officer George Claflin, one of four police officers who teaches the course along with health teachers. ''One of the advantages to Project Northland is that it has a huge parent component,'' he said. ''Parents take a more active role in the curriculum.'' The new curriculum is being taught to all students starting middle school and will expand as they advance in grade. The sixth-grade program deals mainly with alcohol, while the seventh-grade curriculum focuses on tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and inhalants. Students will take reinforcement classes when they reach the eighth-grade. ''Children might go home and talk to their parents about peer pressure or how alcohol affects the body,'' Kaitz said, referring to the sixth-grade curriculum. ''It's appropriate for sixth-graders and it's a great kickoff for discussion.'' ''When we ask the kids if any of them have had these kinds of discussions before, most of them say no.'' The seventh-grade curriculum provides ''information and skill development around learning what the pressures are, both internal and external, that cause people to use drugs and alcohol and how to resist those pressures,'' she said. ''Having them practice this, because they already have the language in their heads, really makes a difference.'' ''This isn't just a school issue,'' Kaitz said. ''Most drugs and alcohol are not done on school grounds. They're done at night and on weekends. Like in communities all over the country, the number of youth who start to use alcohol significantly increases between eighth and ninth grades.'' Prevention and resistance skills are a focus for both programs. ''I think prevention is so important,'' said Carley Gibson, health teacher at Oak Hill Middle School. ''Even though most kids may not be drinking, it's important to start talking to them about this before it becomes a major issue.'' A youth risk-behavior survey of Newton students conducted in 2000 by the Newton schools and the city Department of Health showed 15 percent of eighth-graders reporting that they'd had an alcoholic drink, for reasons other than religious purposes, in the previous 30 days. When ninth-graders were asked the same question, 35 percent responded affirmatively. ''Barely any sixth- or seventh-graders say they had a drink within the last 30 days,'' Kaitz said. ''The earlier you start, the likelihood that you will have trouble with substance abuse is greatly increased. Our great hope is that kids wait and wait and wait,'' she said. Karen Spier, a Brown Middle School parent, said she heard a lot more about this program from her sixth-grader than she did from her son about the DARE program when he took it five years ago. ''There was a lot of interaction, a lot of talking going on. It was a springboard to discussion,'' she said of the sixth-grade curriculum. One project involved watching television with a friend and analyzing alcohol commercials and the messages behind them, she said. ''It planted that seed in their minds now, so that when they do get closer to the drinking part, they do realize they're getting sold.'' Before introducing this curriculum, the middle schools didn't teach drug or alcohol abuse education before eighth grade, Gibson said. Gibson praised the program's emphasis on parental involvement. One sixth-grade homework assignment, she said, is an interview in which the students ask their parents about their own experiences with peer pressure and about their most embarrassing moments in school. ''I think most of them learn a little about their parents,'' she said. No parents have objected to the curriculum, Gibson said. ''In any school where substance abuse prevention is taught, there may be a little discomfort, but I haven't heard any of it this year.'' Claflin said the Police Department welcomes its involvement in the schools. ''We'd much rather have a positive interaction with the kids than a negative one.'' Note: Schools drop DARE, give parents wider role.This story ran on page W1 of the Boston Globe on 1/19/2003. Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Gail Spector, Globe CorrespondentPublished: January 19, 2003Copyright: 2003 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:GAO Report on DARE in PDF Format DARE Program Doesn't Lower Drug Risk DARE Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 21, 2003 at 05:57:39 PT
Dear DARE officer,
WITH OUT THE support from the people that support cannabis, Your efforts are futile. Your success depends on ending the practice of caging humans for using a plant in order to more successfully help citizens with drug problems. But then police are not in the business of helping people with drug problems, are they.Currently, DARE is not capable to produce success. And if I don't respect DARE neither will My children.&Sheriff Joe Arpaio illustrates the truth when He says (DARE) it's not working," and "The DARE program is very, very restrictive," and "You have to follow every word of the program, down to the period."US AZ: DARE Support In Valley Wanes Arizona citizens disagree with the Federal stance toward cannabis, a more credible new program, allowed to speak about cannabis with regional sentiment will reap rewards helping youth resist drugs better than DARE is able to help.)If the cops want to be teachers then apply for jobs as teachers, otherwise...
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