drugsign

RESOURCES

 

D.A.R.E. America (Official page of D.A.R.E. program)
——
Drug Abuse Resistance Education (Bureau of Justice Assistance Fact Sheet)
——
Keepin’ it REAL (Official page)

 

 

 

What is Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)?

Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children (typically in elementary or middle school) how to stay drug free and resist peer pressure.

 

D.A.R.E. began in Los Angeles in 1983 and quickly spread to become the most popular drug prevention program for youth nationwide. The main curriculum involves officers providing once a week instruction to students for about an hour. A typical D.A.R.E. program lasts 17 weeks and covers a number of topics including the effects of drugs, techniques for resisting peer pressure to use illegal substances, stress management, and positive alternatives to drug use.

 

The D.A.R.E. program has been reformulated multiple times in efforts to increase its effectiveness (see below).  The original D.A.R.E. curriculum was replaced by “Take Charge of Your Life,” which was found, if anything, to have counterproductive effects. More recently, D.A.R.E. has adopted the “Keepin’ it REAL” curriculum.  The new curriculum is designed to be more interactive and multicultural than the traditional program and utilizes student stories to teach students resistance skills.

 

Project D.A.R.E. Outcome Effectiveness Revisited
(Steven West and Keri O’Neal, American Journal of Public Health)
——
Lessons from the Battle Over D.A.R.E.: The Complicated Relationship Between Research and Practice (Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox, Center for Court Innovation)
——
D.A.R.E. program profile (CrimeSolutions.gov)
——
Characteristics of Effective School-Based Substance Abuse Prevention (Denise Gottfredson and David Wilson, Prevention Science)
——
D.A.R.E. program (Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, University of Colorado Boulder)

 

 

 

 

What is the Evidence on D.A.R.E?

D.A.R.E. is listed under “What doesn’t work?” on our Review of the Research Evidence. 

 

Rosenbaum summarized the research evidence on D.A.R.E. by titling his 2007 Criminology and Public Policy article “Just say no to D.A.R.E.” As Rosenbaum describes, the program receives over $200 million in annual funding, despite little or no research evidence that D.A.R.E. has been successful in reducing adolescent drug or alcohol use. As Rosenbaum (2007: 815) concludes “In light of consistent evidence of ineffectiveness from multiple studies with high validity, public funding of the core D.A.R.E. program should be eliminated or greatly reduced. These monies should be used to fund drug prevention programs that, based on rigorous evaluations, are shown to be effective in preventing drug use.”

 

A systematic review by West and O’Neal (2004) examined 11 published studies of D.A.R.E. and reached similar conclusions. D.A.R.E. has little or no impact on drug use, alcohol use, or tobacco use. They concluded that ““Given the tremendous expenditures in time and money involved with D.A.R.E., it would appear that continued efforts should focus on other techniques and programs that might produce more substantial effects” (West & O’Neal, 2004: 1028).

 

Recent reformulations of the D.A.R.E. program have not shown successful results either. For example, the Take Charge of your Life program, delivered by D.A.R.E. officers was associated with significant increases in alcohol and cigarette use by program participants compared to a control group (Sloboda et al., 2009).

 

While there is some evidence supportive of the “Keepin’ it REAL” curriculum as delivered by trained teachers, there has not been rigorous testing to date of the effectiveness of this new curriculum as delivered by police officers.  Without convincing evidence of the success of this new curriculum, D.A.R.E. remains categorized as “What doesn’t work?”

Individual Studies from the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix
Not all individual-based studies are hot spots studies. The 8 D.A.R.E. studies are concentrated in the bottom-back portion of the slab (individual, general, highly proactive tactics)

individuals-slabDownload a full list of studies included in the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix

 

D.A.R.E. Studies from the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix:

 

Author (Year)
Intervention
Harmon (1993) Those that receive D.A.R.E. significantly less likely to start using alcohol in year after program; no impact on cigarette or marijuana use
grey-circle
M
G
HP
Becker et al. (1992) Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) had no significant impact on drug use
empty
M
G
HP
Clayton et al. (1996) No significant impact of D.A.R.E. on cigarette, alcohol, or marijuana use one year after and over five year follow up
empty
R
G
HP
Ennett et al. (1994) D.A.R.E. has no significant impact on smoking, alcohol use, or heavy drinking immediately after, 1 year after, and 2 years; after program
empty
R
G
HP
Perry et al. (2003) D.A.R.E. has no significant impact on any of the outcome measures (self-reported tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use; violence, victimization)
empty
VR
G
HP
Ringwalt et al. (1991) D.A.R.E has no significant impact on smoking, alcohol use, or use of inhalants
empty
R
G
HP
Rosenbaum et al. (1998) D.A.R.E has no significant overall impact on using cigarettes or alcohol
empty
R
G
HP
Sloboda et al. (2009) Negative program effect for adolescent substance abuse prevention program on use of alcohol and cigarettes and no effect for marijuana use.
backfire
VR
G
HP

All of these studies are coded as individual-based on the X-axis of the Matrix

Result: full-circle =successful intervention; grey-circle = mixed results; empty = nonsignificant finding; backfire = harmful intervention

Rigor: M = moderately rigorous; R = rigorous; VR = very rigorous

Y-axis: F = focused; G= general

Z-axis: R = reactive, P = proactive, HP = highly proactive

Drug Free Zone sign image courtesy of Flickr user rytc and used under a Creative Commons license.