In the Feb. 16 column, Boot camps are worthless, should get boot, Fred Grimm attempted to link boot camps with the D.A.R.E.® program. In the March 26 Five Questions interview, Turning kids from crime, Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade County's chief assistant public defender, also sought to link the scared-straight approach to D.A.R.E.® Neither of them referred to any studies, recent or ancient.
D.A.R.E.® is currently in 75 percent of school districts nationwide. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Monitoring the Future Study, teenage drug use continues to fall, decreasing 19 percent during the past four years. Can D.A.R.E.® take all of the credit? Of course not, but D.A.R.E.® is not Scared Straight.
Before being allowed to teach D.A.R.E.®, a police officer must successfully complete 80 hours of intensive training. Unfortunately, not all police officers who begin the training complete it.
The foundation of the D.A.R.E.® curricula includes science-based principles of prevention, as well as age-appropriate reading material. All curricula are written by a national panel of curriculum and prevention experts. Does D.A.R.E.® work? Let's look at the science and the recent studies: Since 1997 there have been 18 studies conducted on D.A.R.E.® showing positive results. The most eye-opening study was published by the Journal of the National Medical Association showing that D.A.R.E.® graduates are five times less likely to begin smoking than non-D.A.R.E.® graduates.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation currently is conducting a five-year study involving more than 19,000 students from 83 high schools and 122 middle schools. The study, now in its fourth year, shows positive results as more students decide against using drugs; more find drug use socially inappropriate and believe fewer peers used drugs; fewer students reported an intent to use inhalants; and more students learned how to refuse drugs.
D.A.R.E.® has also put together scientific, educational and law-enforcement boards to provide guidance and direction. Our National Conference now has learning tracts for D.A.R.E.® officers and educators.
Our web site, www.dare.com, receives more than 11 million hits a month, providing valuable information to not just D.A.R.E.® officers but anyone seeking reliable and timely information on drug prevention. Other family resources also are available at the site.