Pubdate: Fri, 14 Dec 2007
Source: Galesburg Register-Mail (IL)
Copyright: 2007 Galesburg Register-Mail
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Judy Guenseth's Dec. 7 column: The importance of parental 
involvement in reducing adolescent drug use cannot be overstated. 
School-based extracurricular activities also have been shown to 
reduce use. They keep kids busy during the hours they're most likely 
to get into trouble.

In order for drug prevention efforts to effectively reduce harm, they 
must be reality-based. The most popular drug and the one most closely 
associated with violent behavior is often overlooked by parents. That 
drug is alcohol, and it takes far more lives each year than all 
illegal drugs combined. Alcohol may be legal, but it's still the No. 
1 drug problem.

For decades, school-based drug prevention efforts have been dominated 
by sensationalist programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Good 
intentions are no substitute for effective drug education. 
Independent evaluations of DARE have found the program to be either 
ineffective or counterproductive. The scare tactics used do more harm 
than good.

Students who realize they've been lied to about marijuana may make 
the mistake of assuming that harder drugs like methamphetamine 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 peers.

- -- Robert Sharpe is policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, 
Washington, D.C.
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