President Bush has declared today National DARE Day, in recognition of the "law enforcement officers, volunteers, parents, and teachers" who "are helping to send the right message to our Nation's youth about illegal drugs and violence through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program." It's debatable whether DARE actually sends the "right message," or whether kids take it to heart. But one thing is clear after two decades of research: DARE fails to achieve its avowed goal of discouraging drug use.
"Despite all the millions of dollars we've poured into D.A.R.E., it hasn't worked," says the Drug Policy Alliance's Marsha Rosenbaum. If the president is not inclined to believe a sociologist on George Soros's payroll, perhaps he'll listen to the Surgeon General's Office, which in 2001 classified DARE as an "ineffective program." Or the Government Accountability Office (then the General Accounting Office), which in 2003 found "no significant differences in illicit drug use between students who received D.A.R.E. and students who did not." Or one of his favorite think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute, which last month issued a report that noted "Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), the only widely adopted prevention program, has been repeatedly demonstrated to be ineffective."
Back in 1995, Jeff Elliott explained what's wrong with DARE in a Reason cover story. More recently, in the January 2004 issue, Renee Moilanen showed that the supposedly new and improved programs that are vying to replace DARE are not much of an improvement.