Kids, Cops and School-Based Drug Prevention: The Legacy of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)

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Contribution to Books

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In 2002 Project DARE (drug abuse resistance education) marked its 20-year anniversary as a school-based drug education program. Established in 1983 in the wake of the much-maligned "just say no" program, DARE continues to enjoy widespread support from a variety of influential stakeholders including parents, teachers, elected officials, and the law enforcement community. Despite its popularity, however, recent scholarly evaluations of the program indicate that DARE is not particularly effective in preventing adolescent drug use. In light of these negative evaluations, this chapter seeks to identify the reasons behind DARE's continued popularity and to show how administrators have shielded the program from critics both inside and outside academe. This chapter begins by reviewing some recent data on the "war on drugs" and its impact on juvenile drug use. The chapter goes on to show that although many Americans support aggressive supply-side drug enforcement policies, they also believe that proactive demand reduction efforts such as DARE are an attractive alternative to arrest. The chapter concludes with a discussion about DARE's apparent immunity to scholarly criticism and points up a few of the more thorny challenges facing researchers in the field of program evaluation.

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