Tuesday, August 06, 2002


Reason's Senior Editor Jacob Sullum analyses DARE's strategy for staying in the majority of the nation's schools by constantly claiming the program is revising its curriculum:

Suppose you buy a mosquito trap and find, after using it for a few months, that there are just as many mosquitoes in your yard as before, if not more. You complain to the manufacturer, which says it now has a new model that works much better. You try it, but it’s no more effective than the first one. Then you read in Consumer Reports that the company never tested the trap and has no evidence that it works. Livid, you call the manufacturer again, and you’re told the bad reviews apply to products it no longer makes. It is now developing a new mosquito trap that no one has tested yet.

This is essentially the strategy that DARE, the country’s leading drug education program, has successfully used to stay in business for nearly two decades. One study after another has found that students who complete DARE (a.k.a. Drug Abuse Resistance Education) are just as likely to use drugs as students who don’t. Yet DARE claims it is constantly revising its curriculum, so any research indicating that it doesn’t work is immediately outdated. And with a few exceptions, school districts--four-fifths of which use the program--always seem willing to give DARE another chance.

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