Spotlight 2: DARE

The DARE program was a government run program from sixth grade through high school aged children to prevent drug use. DARE stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (Cima). DARE was popular in the 1980s and 1990s (Cima).  Children who went through the DARE education program were no less likely to partake in drugs (Cima).  The DARE curriculum consisted of seventeen lessons starting at personal safety and leading to gang pressures. Science from DAREs start supported that DARE would not be successful. DARE was taught by police officers as they are more familiar with crimes.  Officers received 80 hours of training to teach techniques in classrooms (Cima). DARE focuses on building a child’s self-esteem and resisting peer pressure (Cima) First Lady Nancy Reagan helped boost the program with coining the term “just say no” (Cima).  The program was wildly popular among adults even with the multi million dollar price tag. In 1995 DARE had a cost at 200 million to 2 billion.  DARE was funded by government, state and local tax money. DARE supporters accused critics of being in cahoots with drug cartels (Cima). Politicians didn’t care about the adverse research because parents believed DARE was working and Parents vote.  DARE executives used evidence that the programs popularity equated to credibility.

DARE was also reviewed by the Government Accountability Office.  The office found that there was “no significant difference between the DARE group and the control group” (Cima) Ennett and colleagues ran a quasi-experimental research project in 1993 meaning there was no random assignment. The logistic regression with odd ratios adjusted had no significant effect on alcohol use, cigarette use, or heavy drinking (Rosenbaum). Rural students were half as likely to increase their cigarette use from pretest (Rosenbaum). Yet they were more likely to increase alcohol use upon post test (Rosenbaum).  There was no effect on urban or suburban students who received DARE training. This effect for rural students wore off after a year.  There were no long-term effects (Rosenbaum).

I feel the program was very costly. I feel like if any program costs 200 million to 2 billion dollars there should’ve been some more focus on results. I believe the program went as far as it did because of the popularity with parents and politicians. Of course, the idea of preventing drug use and building children’s self-esteem sounds like a fabulous idea. I also think the idea of police officers working in schools foster appositive impression of police in children’s mind. I feel DARE was idealistic and that is why it went so far. There was a decrease of drug use statistically in the 1990s but his wasn’t specifically focused in schools and I believe was misattributed.

As far as similar abstinence based programs I do not think they are effective I think as they are similar programs similar results were occurring. I think programs focusing on healthy decision making should be used.  I think these programs must expose children to what will happen if they partake in these activities and inform them of the risks. Then focus on the point that they can make the smart informed decision.


Cima, R. (n.d.). DARE: The Anti-Drug Program That Never Actually Worked. Retrieved November 04, 2017, from

Rosenbaum, D. (n.d.). Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). Retrieved November 04, 2017, from


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