DARE To Keep Funding DARE!

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After years of wasting tax money on DARE, the discredited drug education program, the city of Cincinnati canned it a while back. Then it brought it back. This Cincy Enquirer article suggests that the nosferatu program–which utilizes some six full-time coppers in a burg with a serious crime problem–has never had much to do with just saying no to drugs. Rather, it's some sort of weird community relations ploy:

"The real value of the program is kids have an opportunity to interact with police in a positive, supporting environment," [Cincinnati City Manager Valerie] Lemmie said.

Here's a better suggestion, one that will save Cincinnati $350,000 on the police side and god knows how much on the school side (other cities must be shelling similar amounts of dough): Teach cops how to do their jobs efficiently and professionally and build trust where its needed most–on the streets where crime actually occurs.

Lemmie's nauseating suggestion that school is the place to run an Officer Friendly outreach program–god forbid schools should focus on literacy and numeracy–calls to mind Reason's great 1995 expose of DARE, one of the first to probe the origins of this prohibitionist boondoggle. Among the article's revelations was how LAPD Daryl Gates (yes, that Daryl Gates, of LA riots fame) coopted the program as way of getting cops on school campuses.

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  1. Yeah…that was Weird Al…

    I don’t think DARE was a big thing back when I was in public schools (’84-’96), but I do remember something in 6th grade called “Junior Deputy”. Basically, a couple of people from the local Sheriff’s Dept. would hold assemblies once a month, show us movies about drugs, guns, safety…I guess the idea was to have us “interact with the police in a positive manner.”

    If anything, the cops were demystified and looked like fools. We made fun of them. I mean, how lame do you have to be to carry a gun and have 12-year-olds think you’re dorky?

    I’m told that once upon a time schools focused on teaching fundamental knowledge and skills. (Reading, math, history, GOVERNMENT). I missed out on that golden age, but had good parents to make up for it. Seems like it’s gotten a lot worse in the few years since I’ve been out.

  2. The reason these programs won’t go away is the typical lack of perspective in cost-benefit-analysis when it comes to saving lives, and moreso, saving children. “If it saves even one child from a life ruined or ended by drug addiction, then it’s worth it!” I can hear the proletariat mutter. Of course it’s stupid and assumes there aren’t better ways to educate kids about drugs. I’d be willing to bet that given the relative risks, we’d probably be in better shape if more kids ended up experimenting with milder drugs like pot and ecstacy instead of the legal (for adults) alternatives of booze and cigarettes.

  3. I can recall a visit to my school from a policeman back in 1970. His message about the dangers of drug use was the usual ham-handed drivel, and he was basically laughed off the stage.

    Kids are better than anyone at sniffing out this sort of bogus touchy-feely, outreach stuff by authorities, byt police seem to be perpetually immune to the lessons they are given.

    From a really backwards perspective, the police visits have just the right effect – they teach kids to mistrust authoority and discount preaching that goes against their own experience!

  4. When we were in grade school, we had a interesting anti-smoking program that would drive PETA mad. We experimented on rabbits with cigarettes.

    The rabbits were put into solid plastic boxes, that had some ventilation holes. When we wanted the rabbits to “smoke,” we would shut the holes, and then pump the smoke from a burning cigarette into the boxes. We also had a control group that was not exposed. Each group had three rabbits in it. Anyway, the rabbits “smoked” about a dozen cigarettes a day, and by the end of the year we dissected them, and got to compare the lungs of the two groups of rabbits. It was fairly educational. We learned something about how experimental science works, what the organs of an animal look like and how they function, and of course that smoking fucks up your lungs.

  5. Hugs are better than drugs–unless it’s Ritalin!

  6. Is it time for a revivial of the Weird Al song “DARE to be stupid?”
    At least old trickster memory says to me that it was Weird Al.

  7. Soooo, is there is a difference between people taking anti-psychotic medications because they denigrate to psychotic behavior and people who take drugs because they are just bored on Friday night? I forgot, its all the same. Pop em’ if you got em’ disco lady!

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