Pubdate: Wed, 22 May 2002
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2002 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


A Greensboro Police Department proposal to cut funding for the Drug 
Abuse Resistance Education program isn't necessarily a bad thing. 
Good intentions are no substitute for effective drug education. Every 
independent, methodologically sound evaluation of DARE has found the 
program to be either ineffective or counterproductive. The scare 
tactics used do more harm than good. Students who realize they are 
being lied to about marijuana often make the mistake of assuming that 
harder drugs are relatively harmless as well. This is a recipe for 
disaster. Drug education programs must be reality-based or they may 
backfire when kids are inevitably exposed to drug use among their 

The importance of parental involvement in reducing adolescent drug 
use cannot be overstated. School-based extracurricular activities 
have also been shown to reduce drug use by keeping kids busy during 
the hours they're most prone to getting into trouble. In order for 
drug education to be effective, it has to be credible. The most 
popular recreational drug and the one most often associated with 
violent behavior is often overlooked. That drug is alcohol, and it 
takes far more lives every year than all illegal drugs combined. 
Alcohol may be legal, but it's still the No. 1 drug problem.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., Washington

The writer is program officer, Drug Policy Alliance,
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