Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Drug sniffing dogs fail to reduce usage at a Maui public high school

by Larry Geller

Reading the Star-Bulletin report, I was wondering how come it seems sometimes that our educators can't learn.

At Board of Education testimony yesterday, according to the article, Ron Okamura, superintendent of the Hana-Lahaina-Lanai-Molokai complex, testified that after the dogs left his campus, drug finds increased. He said that students are not afraid to bring drugs to the campus now.

But he doesn't realize that this indicates the program is a failure. Students have learned nothing, according to his very own report.

This point was not missed by those who understand that there are effective educational programs proven to reduce drug use. Maui could have used one of those instead:

But Jeanne Ohta, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the program did not prevent students from using or bringing drugs to campus once the dog was gone.

"An effective program is supposed to reduce drug use in the long term," she said.

Ohta and other critics of the searches, including the American Civil Liberties Union -- which contends they violate students' privacy -- have testified against the initiative. They have been urging the board to instead consider programs that scientific studies have shown reduce substance abuse by students.

I understand that the Maui principal countered that they do use DARE in addition to the dog program. Trouble is, DARE has been shown to be ineffective, and the Board of Education understands that. It doesn't affect the drug use statistics if students participate in a DARE program or if they do not.

Before they can educate students about drug abuse prevention, it seems that Maui educators need to educate themselves.


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