Individuals – Ennett et al. (1994)

Study Reference:

Ennett, S. T., Rosenbaum, D. P., Flewelling, R. L., Bieler, G. S., Ringwalt, C. L., & Bailey, S. L. (1994). Long-term evaluation of Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Addictive Behaviors, 19(2), 113–125.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; General; Highly proactive; Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examines a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (DARE), a school-based primary drug prevention curriculum designed for introduction during the last year of elementary education. Students received 16 weeks of instruction from uniformed police officers trained in the DARE Curriculum, about drugs and their effects, peer pressure resistance skills, decision making skills, enhancing self-esteem, and a series of other skills and knowledge that may help them resist drug use.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study evaluated the impact of DARE on adolescent drug use, as well as on related social and psychological factors, immediately, 1 year, and 2 years after students completed the program. Data came from the Illinois DARE study, a previous longitudinal evaluation of DARE initially involving 36 elementary schools. These schools were matched into 18 pairs on a variety of characteristics. Six pairs of schools serving urban and suburban areas were randomly assigned to DARE or control, while the remaining six pairs of schools in rural areas were assigned based on convenience. Students in control schools received ordinary non-DARE drug-education curricula. Questionnaires were given to students before and after (immediately, 1 year, and 2 years) the implementation of DARE.

What were the key findings?

Results provided limited support for DARE’s impact on student’s drug use immediately following the intervention, and no impact in the long term. Cigarette smoking was the only drug-use behavior on which DARE had a significant effect, which disappeared a year later. Additionally, DARE also had limited positive effects on social and psychological risk factors. It significantly increased students’ self-esteem immediately after the program, but only in the short run.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggest that their findings are consistent with previous rigorous evaluations– that DARE is generally ineffective. They suggests that consideration be given to possible ways to strengthen DARE’s effectiveness, including consideration of the grade level of the target audience, the curriculum contents, and the use of police officers as instructors.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?