Drug Abuse Resistance Education D.A.R.E.

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D. A. R. E. , which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education is a police-delivered drug prevention program that is used in a large number of schools in the United States. This program was initially set up to target fifth and sixth grade students but has subsequently been modified to include students at the middle and high school levels (Wysong & Wright, 1995). The D. A. R. E. program follows a prescribed curriculum and is delivered in the schools by uniformed police officers. Officers first have to go through 80 hours of training (Wysong & Wright, 1995).

They are then provided with standardized scripts to follow during these sessions and deviation is discouraged (Noble, 1997). The program is intended to last for a total of 17 weeks. Sessions are scheduled during regular class time and, depending on the institution, this time is slotted into 17 sessions of 45 to 60 minute duration. Because of time-table and other constraints, however, some schools have had to modify the program (Noble, 1997). Different delivery strategies are used including question and answer, group discussions and role-playing activities (Noble, 1997; Wysong & Wright, 1995).

Besides classroom instructions there are Wysong & Wright (1995) cite “the use of selected high school students as DARE ‘Role Models’… informal officer/student contacts, teacher orientation, parental education and community presentations” (p. 285). Upon completion of the program the participating students receive a certificate at a graduation exercise (Noble, 1997). Origin and Rationale for Policy The condition under which the D. A. R. E. program developed in the United States, and subsequently gained considerable popularity, can be understood in the context of the proliferation in the use of illicit drugs during the 1980s.

With the increased use of crack cocaine and its association with increases in violent crimes in large cities, officials began to realize that strict drug control was necessary. What Des Jarlais et al (2006) refer to as the “crack epidemic” caused the “intensification of the war on drugs/zero tolerance approach to illicit drug use” (p. 1354). Additional interest in this issue was generated by then President Reagan in 1986 following his ‘War on Drugs’ address to the nation. Subsequent to this the ‘Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986’ was passed.

Following this a National Drug Control Strategy was established which sought to develop programs to help in reducing demand for drugs. Drug education programs were therefore essential and funding was made available (Wysong & Wright, 1995, p. 298). In 1983, then Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates along with a health education specialist, Ruth Rich, from the Los Angeles Unified School District, developed the D. A. R. E. program. The program therefore began as a school-based drug prevention program collaboratively created by law-enforcement and education personnel (Des Jarlais, 2006; Wysong & Wright, 1995).

The program was initially piloted in 8,000 elementary schools in Los Angeles in 1983-1984. In 1986 and 1988 the program was extended to middle and high schools. It has now expanded and is considered the largest drug education program of its kind in the United States. Wysong & Wright (2006) notes that the program has now extended to all 50 states and is reaching approximately 25 million students. Des Jarlais et al (2006) also highlight that the program has been adopted internationally by some 54 countries. Intended outcomes/Objectives of policy The D. A. R. E. program has been lauded by the U. S.

Department of Justice as “a long-term solution” to the problem of drug use (as cited in Wysong & Wright, 1995, p. 285). Both the short and the long-term goals of the program are to prevent students’ use and abuse of all drugs including tobacco and alcohol which are legal. The program functions on the premise that some students may lack the requisite skills to resist the temptation to use drugs when pressured by peers. The intent is therefore to help students “develop the confidence, self-esteem and decision-making skills aimed at resisting peer pressures associated with drug-taking and anti-social behaviour” (Noble 1997).

The program aims not only to affect the students’ use of such drugs but also to influence their attitudes towards drugs overall (Lynam et al, 1999). Further, the D. A. R. E. ‘s program also has several secondary objectives which include enhancing self-worth and decision-making skills. The lessons covered under the standardized curriculum contain activities aimed at improving overall self-esteem, guides students through how to make good and positive decisions, trains in character development so students can be more assertive and also helps to develop effective communication skills.

All these aspects are aimed at providing students with “positive alternatives” and the power to resist (Wysong & Wright, 1995, p. 285-287). Resource Requirements The D. A. R. E. program is very intensive and requires the investment of a considerable amount of resource on the part of all stakeholders involved in the program. Beginning at the state level, the curriculum has to be disseminated to the thousands of schools under each jurisdiction. Financial resources are also required to fund the program and to ensure its continued viability.

Facilities for improving on the current program and developing new components have to be maintained. During the period 1992-1994 a number of sweeping adjustments were made to the curriculum in the form of the addition of new material being added. Additionally there have also been adjustments into the way the material is presented. Following the revisions of 1992-1993, a new program was introduced which was to be introduced into the schools beginning January 1, 1995. Therefore, though the D.

A. R. E. program still aims at reducing substance use, necessary changes have had to be made to the curriculum and such changes are possible because resource is being invested to ensure that the program is kept up to date (Wysong & Wright, 1995, p. 285). Additionally, because the program requires the involvement of police officers in the delivery of the material, training has to be provided not only in program content but on essentials in proper classroom management and delivery techniques.

At the level of the schools it is a great investment of time and educational resources to allow for the facilitation of these programs. In certain new forms of the program that are being introduced, educators are being incorporated more closely into the program (Wysong & Wright, 1995). Furthermore parents and interests in the wider community are being invited to participate in these programs to ensure continuity and that the same message is being sent from all quarters to these students. All of these factors have to be borne as each entity contributes significantly to the success of the program.

As Des Jarlais et al (2006) argue, it is not easy to assess the amount of resource that goes into a program of this magnitude. From the federal down to the individual level, considerable sacrifices have to be made and such are not easily or immediately measurable. Cost The D. A. R. E. program is the only its kind on which the federal government invests so much financial capital at approximately three quarters of a billion dollars annually. Since its inception the government has seen it in its best interest to ensure continued funding.

In 1990 amendments to the 1986 Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (DFSCA) required the provision of ten percent of government funds towards programs that aimed at reducing drugs through education. This meant that the D. A. R. E. program received the majority of this allocation because it was the only program being targeted at the time for federal funding (Wysong & Wright, 1995, p. 298). This program was therefore costing the government significant sums. Even though the federal government has since decreased its allocations towards the D.

A. R. E. there is still significant support. But federal financing is not the only form of financing that the D. A. R. E. program receives. It is estimated that the program runs in the region of $750 million dollars in its expenditure nationwide (Wysong & Wright, 1995, p. 283). A number of community organizations and corporations have demonstrated an interest in the program by contributing tangibly. The corporate sponsors provide the majority of funds that meet the expenditure requirements of the D. A. R. E. program on a yearly basis.

It was via the help of a $13. 56 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that the program was able to undergo a few more recent adjustments (Des Jarlais, 2006; Wysong & Wright, 1995). Stakeholder involvement The DARE program attempts to incorporate the involvement of a wide cross-section of community members. Police officers are recruited by officials to deliver the program in the schools. Collaboration with the educational institutions is necessary as the curriculum is delivered in the classroom.

Moreover teachers and administrators are increasingly being asked to participate by liaising with the law enforcement officers to discuss how far objectives are being met (Lynam et al, 2004, p. 591). Des Jarlais et al (2006) comments that the program is a unique integration of law enforcement and education agencies because of the interaction it provides between students and officers within the school setting. Community leaders get involved by helping to decide on the specific curricula that are delivered in the community as well as influencing the choice of program activities.

Community leaders here include “law enforcement officers, school administrators, parent groups, and local government officials” (Des Jarlais et al, 2006, p. 1354). Ethical Considerations Some researchers have questioned the effectiveness of the officers in the program and their ability to function in the classroom. Furthermore, there are queries as to how well the standardized program meets the individual needs of students. Erickson (1997) questions these programs on the basis that they may be undermining the “authority of classroom teachers.

” Still others question the methodology of the program suggesting that reliance on programs that preach primarily prevention is not proving successful (Erickson, 1997). The approach that is being suggested instead is harm reduction which advises on proper use of drugs rather on just avoidance (Noble, 1997). Possible improvements Even though the program attempts to involve interests within the community, this seems not to be adequate enough to ensure the success of the program. Individuals in the community also need to be trained and probably asked to function as Mentors or Role Models for these students.

The program does not seem to consider the implications of background such as socioeconomic status and ethnicity on the tendency to use drugs. I suggest that research into the at-risk groups in society needs to be conducted. Following such research the programs should be targeted more specifically to those students and modified to fit into their own social setting rather than just using a standardized program. REFERENCES Erickson, P. G. (1997, May 15). Reducing the harm of adolescent substance use. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 156(10), 1397. Lynam, D. R. , Milich, R. , Zimmerman, R. , Novak, S.

P. , Logan, T. K. , Martin, C. , Leukefeld, C. & Clayton, R. (1999). Project DARE: No effects at 10-year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67,(4), 590-593. Noble, C. (1997). Daring to drop D. A. R. E. Health Education, 97(5), 187. Wysong, E. & Wright, D. W. (1995, August). A decade of dare: efficacy, politics and drug education. Sociological Focus, 28(3), 283-311. Des Jarlais, D. C. , Sloboda, Z. , Friedman, S. R. , Tempalski, B. , McKnight C. & Braine, N. (2006, August). Diffusion of the D. A. R. E. and Syringe Exchange Programs. Health Policy & Ethics, 96(8), 1354-1358.

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