Pubdate: Mon, 05 Feb 2007
Source: Aurora, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2007 The Aurora
Author: Robert Sharpe


Cpl. Keith MacKinnon's Jan. 29th column offered excellent advice on 
preventing adolescent substance abuse. The importance of parental 
involvement in reducing 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 heroin 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.

The following U.S. Government Accounting Office report confirms my 
claims regarding DARE:

Robert Sharpe, MPA Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC
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