Do school based prevention programs actually work?
Many people claim that school based drug and alcohol prevention programs do not work and are just a waste of money. (Hanson, 2002) What people want to know is how much do we spend on these programs? What are the programs actually trying to prevent? And does the program work? It is questions like these that leave people so confused about the decisions they make regarding the program like, determining if the program is benefiting their child or wasting school time that could be used to teach something more useful. DARE:
A great deal of money is spent to support the DARE program. (Thombs, 2001) The government gives about two billion dollars a year to fund DARE. State, local, and private funding is being put towards these programs also, for a total cost of about 8 billion dollars per year for a program that may not even work. (Rowe, 1998) The project ALERT prevention program costs about one hundred fifty dollars per student. (project alert, 2003). The program that people claim doesn’t work the most is the DARE program. (Hanson, 2009) DARE stands for drug abuse resistance education. The program is designed with the intentions of of reducing the likelihood of youth using drugs. (Lucas, 2008) It is a program in which police officers, from local police stations, go to classrooms ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. They are supposed to teach students life skills they need in order to avoid involvement with drugs and alcohol. The program originated in 1983 by the Los Angeles police department. (What is, 1996) The program was claimed to be so successful that it is now used in eighty percent of the United States school districts. (Hanson, 2002) Research was done to see how much the program worked or effected students and studies consistently show that DARE, when it comes to reducing the use of alcohol and drugs, is very ineffective. (Hanson, 2002) Sometimes the program showed to be counterproductive, meaning that it did the opposite of what it wanted to do. The DARE leaders say that the program shouldn’t be judged by research because they are usually indifferent to factual evidence and usually it relies on feelings, impressions, and hope. They believe the program needs no evaluation considering their strongest numbers are the ones that don’t show up because the program is based on educational theories and techniques to be used in the real world. (Hanson, 2002) When the University of Kentucky did a study on the DARE prevention program they found that it was ineffective. (Hanson, 2002) The organization's leaders called it an academic fraud saying it was bogus and saying it was set up by anti-DARE therapists. When a study in Houston, Texas was conducted, it showed a 29% and 34% drug and tobacco use that had increased with students who had participated in the DARE program. After trying to argue* the numbers that had been researched, the police chief there claimed he would use the results to fine tune the program, thus spending another 3.7 million dollars to fund the program that had showed results of increased drug use (Hanson, 2002). The DARE leaders suggest that critics are jealous of the organization's success. Then in 1986 the National institute of Justice study suggested that DARE had some promise to help prevent kids or help their decision making. At that time Nancy Reagan was promoting the “Just Say No” to kids. This was a campaign slogan for the “war on drugs.” Then congress soon approved a large package of drug prevention money where 10 percent went to the cops who taught the DARE program. (Hanson, 2002) A peer review study soon identified major problems and showed that in reality, it actually increased drug use among girls. When information was being released to the public DARE officials started to make threatening phone calls and violent threats to researchers because they wanted them to hide...
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