Monday, April 27, 2009


Dare to challenge D.A.R.E.

by Larry Geller

DARE is an ineffective program beloved by police departments and schools. It doesn’t work. It’s ineffective in preventing drug use. California doesn’t let DARE into its schools. And it’s a waste of state and city money (and not eligible for federal funding). Ok, now on to the controversy between Rep. Joe Bertram and the Maui police.

I read the Notebook blog written by reporters Derrick DePledge and Peter Boylan because they cover issues that won’t fit in the shrunken printed paper, and also, because it is a blog, they can express themselves more accessibly. In the print paper, with 12 point type and narrow columns, by the time a writer covers the obligatory Five W’s, the article is almost over. On a blog, there’s the opportunity for the reporters to do the story their way.

In Joe on a roll, a short post on Rep. Joe Bertram’s letter to Maui police recommending they stop funding the ineffective DARE anti-drug program, Derrick DePledge starts something that Andy Parx finishes in his own article Breeding Discontent. What has captured their attention? Well, Bertram. But let’s look more closely at what he has asked of the Maui police.

It seems that the Maui police department didn’t like the idea of discontinuing the DARE program, and found Bertram’s criticism to be “offensive.” Bertram’s suggestion that in hard economic times it would be appropriate to give up this program would be a good idea any time, really. The problem is that the Maui police have had too much invested in DARE for a long time, and have pulled the wool over parents’ eyes on its effectiveness.

Dare bumper sticker Yeah, all those parents who stick those bumper stickers on their car. All those parents who have been mislead to thinking that their children are now drug-proofed. How offensive it would be if the parents found out the truth!

There are effective, evidence-based programs. Parents and schools can get information from the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii or other reputable sources.

Cops have become addicted to the money they get for the program and they love how DARE teaches children to rat on their parents. Here’s how it works (snippet, from a Massachusetts article):

Local support for the [DARE] program follows harsh criticism from state officials after a criminal justice report called DARE a failure earlier this year. In April, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey said she would not recommend resurrecting state funding for the DARE program until a nationwide study is completed several years from now. State funding for DARE was cut in 2002 by Acting Governor Jane Swift from $4.3 million to $200,000.

But in Marshfield, Tavares said he has received only positive feedback about the program and he firmly believes it's a needed resource. As an example, he talked about the recent case of a DARE graduate who called the police on his mother after finding marijuana in the house. [Boston Globe, A $1,000 thank you to drug busters,7/8/2004]

Yup, the police love how DARE gets the kids to work for them, something the children will likely regret later on. The ratting might result in violence against children in certain home situations. That is, some parents will react by beating up the kid for turning them in to the cops.

Imagine instead that students understood the need for prevention and treatment and encouraged parents with drug problems to seek help.

So yes, DARE should be discontinued on Maui and anywhere else in Hawaii where that particular con is active. Offend the police. Let’s spend the money that they get for this junk program on something effective. Or at least quit wasting money. Rep. Joe Bertram is right.

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I asked a kid what he learned from attending DARE and he said that Drugs Are Really Expensive.

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