DARE We Admit It? Drug War Is A Bust!

DARE We Admit It? Drug War Is A Bust!
Posted by FoM on August 20, 1999 at 13:26:20 PT
Drug Sense Weekly, August 20, 1999 #111
Source: Drug Sense
What would you say if told that each year the federal government spends more than $650 million of our money on an education program that has been proven ineffective and may actually be hurting our children? 
You might wonder why the Republicans haven't attacked it as a taxpayer rip off. Or why the Democrats, who consider education policy their domain, haven't created a task force to find something better. Or why parents and teachers haven't demanded some answers. Over the last five years, study after peer reviewed study has described how D.A.R.E. and other anti drug programs fail to reach the teenagers most at risk of drug abuse. Present in 70 percent of public schools nationwide, D.A.R.E. relies on uniformed police officers and scare tactics to drum the justsayno message into our kids. This is a national scandal. Yet in competing radio addresses about teen drug use in December, neither the president nor the Republicans addressed the failure of drug education programs. Studies conducted for the General Accounting Office, the Justice Department and the California Department of Education received some coverage by the media. But the truth about D.A.R.E. has been virtually ignored or dismissed by our political leaders. It's little wonder why. D.A.R.E. is an effective marketing machine. By combining grassroots RR including T-shirts, bumper stickers and rallies with aggressive political lobbying of local, state and federal governments, D.A.R.E has become its own special interest group. Unfortunately, D.A.R.E, and other "just say no" programs rely on hype over science when it comes to educating our kids. Dr. Joel Brown of Berkeley based Educational Research Consultants conducted the most extensive evaluations of drug education programs to date. His research, published in leading national scientific journals, showed that drug education programs are not only ineffective but may actually be hurting your kids. Brown's conclusions eloquently articulated for him by the teens he interviewed were so disturbing that in 1995 the California Department of Education, which funded Brown's study, buried the results. (The findings only became public in March 1997, when they were published in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal.) Research shows that kids who are taught that pot is as bad as heroin are more likely to experiment with heroin if they tried marijuana and experienced few consequences. Those kids suspect that if they were lied to about pot, then they were probably lied to about hard drugs as well. As a result, many teens rebel against the programs that are intended to help them. The core of the problem is that D.A.R.E. and other "just say no" boasters refuse to recognize that teenagers experiment with drugs. Government surveys show half of high school students try an illegal drug 80 percent if you include alcohol before graduation. What does the "just say no" message offer these kids? How do we reach these young people on the issue of drug abuse? Unfortunately, federal law makes it harder, not easier, to reach kids who experiment with drugs. Federal funding is allowed to flow only to "just say no" curricula programs that don't allow us to answer honestly the questions our kids ask. Kids who experiment with drugs and those with substance abuse problems alike are suspended or expelled from school, stigmatized and ostracized. In short, we poorly educate all children and abandon the kids most in need of our help. We can turn around drug education by abandoning the "just say no" approach and funding pilot programs that seek to reduce the harms associated with drugs, including addiction. We should focus on the capabilities, not inabilities, of our children. Most importantly we should understand that drug experimentation is different from both misuse and drug abuse, and seek ways to help those who have a problem with substance abuse. As in 12 step programs, the first step toward recovery is the recognition that we have a problem.DARE We Admit It? Drug War Is A Bust With Our Childrenby Kendra Wright Director Family Watch in The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 12098, page E9 Drug Sense Weekly August 20,1999 #111 Sense Weekly August 13, 1999 #110Retreat, Recover From The Drug War - 8/13/99 Article:District Seeks To Make Drug Program Optional - 8/12/99
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