Pubdate: Mon, 02 Dec 2002
Source: Jersey Journal, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2002 The Jersey Journal
Author: Terrence Curran


At the November meeting of the Jersey City Board of Education the issue of 
cutting the DARE program was raised. I questioned whether the program 
should be continued based on the fact that research shows it is not 
effective at reducing drug use among children.

Among the research is a 1994 study commissioned by the Department of 
Justice and published in the American Journal of Public Health that concluded:

"The DARE program's limited effect on adolescent drug use contrasts with 
the program's popularity and prevalence. An important implication is that 
DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug education 
programs that kids could be receiving." - American Journal of Public 
Health, September 1994.

Is DARE a popular program? Yes. Is it effective? Not according to numerous 
studies that have evaluated the program, and yet hundreds of millions of 
dollars are spent on the program each year.

Politically, it would be easy for me to support the DARE program and 
criticize any cuts. It is a popular program, perceived as deterrent to 
drugs, but I cannot endorse spending valuable, limited resources on a 
program that produces minimal results. There is no doubt there is a need 
for a program to prevent adolescents from falling into the downward spiral 
of drug use but it is imperative to implement programs that are proven to 
work and not continue on an unproductive course simply because it is what 
we are accustomed to doing.

A broad approach to drug prevention is needed that includes early 
intervention, involving parents, and comprehensive extracurricular programs 
that include both educational and recreational activities. The current 
approach of the DARE program is far too limited in scope to be effective 
and starts at an age when many children have already been exposed to drugs 
and violence.

I plan to work with state appointed Superintendent Dr. Epps, the other 
members of the Board of Education, parents and community leaders and 
students in developing and implementing programs that will effectively 
address the needs of our children. We owe them at least that much.

Terrence Curran

Board of Education

Jersey City
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