Individuals – Harmon (1993)

Study Reference:

Harmon, M. A. (1993). Reducing the risk of drug involvement among early adolescents: An evaluation of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). Evaluation Review17, 221-239.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; General; Highly proactive; Moderately rigorous; Mixed effects

What police practice or strategy was examined?

D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) – a prevention program that focuses on teaching students skills for recognizing and resisting social pressures to use drugs. The program is taught by a uniformed police officer and consists of 17 lessons taught once a week. D.A.R.E. lessons also focus on the development of self-esteem, coping, assertiveness, communication skills, risk assessment and decision-making skills, and the identification of positive alternatives to drug use.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The study used a quasi-experimental design to determine if 5th grade students’ participation in the program had any effect on the measured outcome variables compared to a similar group that did not receive the 17-week program. Outcome variables included belief in prosocial norms, social integration, commitment to school, rebellious behavior, peer drug modeling, attitudes against substance use, attachment to school, self-esteem, assertiveness, and positive peer modeling. A student self-report questionnaire was used to measure outcome variables; pre-test and post-test surveys were administered approximately 20 weeks apart.

What were the key findings?

D.A.R.E. students initiated alcohol use significantly less in the year after the program. However, there was no program impact found for cigarette or marijuana use, attitudes about police, coping strategies, attachment and commitment to school, or rebellious behavior. The program also had some significant positive impacts on attitudes, including attitudes against substance use.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

It is recommended that D.A.R.E. be restructured to incorporate other lessons, targeting more broad-based adolescent issues such as family struggles, peer acceptance, sexual involvement, intimate relationships, and effective communication. Booster sessions following the prevention program could also to increase the likelihood of sustaining any positive effects.

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