D.A.R.E also known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education is a non-profit educational program, which was created to deter students from the using drugs, alcohol, the use of tobacco, membership in gangs, and violent behavior. This program was first created in 1983 by Daryl Gates, Police Cheif of the LAPD, who started the program in Los Angeles, California, created by the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) and the unified school districts due to the war on drugs that began in 1971, the D.A.R.E program was created due to a catalyst of events which was used to prevent children from interacting with drugs, gangs, and alcohol, with this program, it allowed the LAPD to enter schools and educate children to some degree about how to deal with situations involving illegal substances, people that may influence children in using them and recruiting them.
Though this program is mostly known for educating students on the negatives of drugs it has also educated students on gangs and violent behavior. The program educated students on the risks of joining a gang and how gangs may persuade a student to join, for example, students may be recruited by a gang with the idea that if they join they’ll be considered part of a family or each member of the gang will have each other’s back, but with joining comes violence against other people, for example against a rival gang for territory, but also gangs recruit students due to the possibility that if that child gets arrested for possession or distribution of any illegal substance they will not be punished as harshly as an adult. Students are also used or influenced into recruiting fellow classmates. The program also explains why students may want to join as previously mentioned gang membership gives some students a sense of belonging basically they feel like they’re part of a family, another reason is due to the student feeling alienated and powerlessness though when they’re with their gang they feel stronger. The program also allowed police officers to teach children in elementary and middle schools about conflict resolution, alternatives to gangs and building character.
The program as mention not only dealt with educating students about gangs but it also educated students on violent behavior, in elementary school the program educated children in third and fourth grade about bullying and empathy, and students in sixth and seventh grade learned about anger management and goal-setting. The program also educated students on how to deal with there emotions, how communication is a good way for kids to de-stress themselves to release pent-up emotions and how not to lash out they’re emotions onto other people. The program also educated children to deal with life problems and issues without the need to use violence, and also how to get out of peer pressure situations. D.A.R.E. taught kids how to be assertive and to deal with peer pressure by saying no.
The D.A.R.E program was more enforced due to President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs that occurred during 1971, during this time there was a zero tolerance policy on those that used and sold drugs. Under President Nixon, drug crimes were punished more severely and they were considered the number one enemy, and people were forced to cooperate due to the large presence of military aid, military intervention, and federal drug control agencies. Under Nixon, the black communities were mostly targeted due to the use of heroin and crack even though whites were also using but Nixon considered it a black problem, and the hippies were targeted due to the use of marijuana which during the time was considered a schedule one drug which is considered one of the most restrictive categories of drugs.
After Nixon Presidency came Ronald Reagan’s, Under Reagan the incarceration rate increased, nonviolent drug offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997 due to Reagan continuing Nixon’s war on drugs, which again incarcerated mostly those of the black communities. Under Reagan, drugs became a U.S national security problem instead of a public health problem. During this time the D.A.R.E program was pushed forward, even more, allowing it to become a widespread United States program to prevent children from using drugs, which also pushed by the “just say no” campaign that was pushed by Nancy Reagan.
The D.A.R.E program was even more Solidified due to the death of twenty-two-year-old NBA drafty for the Boston Celtics Len Bias, who was said to be the closest thing to Micheal Jordon, but died two days after he officially became part of the Boston Celtics, Len Bias died to the use of Cocaine in June 19, 1986. After this event, the Anti-Drug Act was passed in 1986 by the U.S Congress, which enacted a new mandatory minimum sentence for illegal drugs which also included marijuana, for example during this time a person would be sentenced for a mandatory of 5 years without parole for possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine.
This program then continued on spreading throughout multiple schools throughout the United States until 2009 when this program was discontinued. The problem with the program D.A.R.E was it necessarily did not work, it was continuously shown by scientist that the program did not make students less likely to use illegal substances, neither did it discourage students in drinking alcohol. The problem with the program was that it misrepresented the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and gangs. When it came to teaching children about drugs and alcohol, the instructors of the D.A.R.E program failed to actually teach, instead, they mostly used scare tactics to deter children instead of using actual facts. The program would show the physical damages of taking drugs and alcohol, but they would not explain how the drugs and alcohol would affect the user’s character, behavior, how they would change as a person due to them, or how the drugs and alcohol would affect the person’s life in general.
The D.A.R.E program had multiple problems that prevented it from succeeding and caused it to fail. One disclaimer was that it constantly taught students that one dose of drugs or alcohol will get you addicted and closer to your death, and that person won’t be able to survive unless the go get treated at a rehab center, which necessarily is not true and its another example of the scare tactics used by the D.A.R.E program. Another disclaimer taught by the program is that once you’ve done any kind of drug you’ll think about them for the rest of your life and most likely you’ll want to do it again, and again this is not necessarily true, a person can take a drug once and live life perfectly fine after, without any addiction nor physical or mental change.
Another disclaimer of the program is, representatives of the program would tell kids that the D.A.R.E program really works and it was backed by statistics, based on statistics it has been proven that student who have completed the D.A.R.E program are just as likely to do drugs as those who have no experience with the program what so ever, another problem with the program is representatives would show false information about the use of drugs, for example on the D.A.R.E site it previously displayed unproven claims that marijuana could weaken the immune system and cause insanity or lung disease, which again is not true the site also previously stated that with the legalization of marijuana there might be double to triple of an increase in pot smoking rates and that this increase is already causing tragedies to occur, which again their claims were not proven by statistics, another reason it may not have succeeded was due to teens not seeing the program as a credible source, the older the students were the less they believed on the program without doing their own search on the information they were given. The D.A.R.E program could have been successful if they were more honest and realistic with students if they used information backed by science and facts instead of made-up information, or on what they believed or perceived to be fact.
The D.A.R.E program even thou it failed it did have some good points. One positive aspect of this program is that it was around for twenty-six years. Some positive things about the program are, it had the capability and influence to reach students from almost every state and educate them in some way about drugs. The program not only influences children in some way but also the parents, it allowed parents to communicate with their children and ask about their perception of drugs, alcohol, violent behavior, and gangs. Even though the program used scare tactics to deter a student from drugs and alcohol, it worked, not necessarily for every student but for a good enough portion of students.
Some other good points to the D.A.R.E program is that it built a relationship between children and police officers, and police officers were able to be seen as someone trustworthy, reliable, and someone that feel safe with. Another positive about the D.A.R.E program is that it was able to influence the attitudes and behaviors of students between tenth and eleventh grade about substance use. The statistics show that there was a significant growth in the positive direction which determined that the program was influencing a student in a good way. D.A.R.E. was able to reduce substance use, increase peer resistance, encouraged communication with parents and other responsible adults, and increased positive views of the police. D.A.R.E. was said to have played an important role in supporting families, developing positive peer groups, creating health-oriented communities, and responsible youth. The D.A.R.E. program helped reduce the number of children who fell victim to smoking, drinking, and illicit drugs, the program also built a networking system for schools and police stations that have proved that people were willing to work together to encourage kids to lead smart, healthy lives.