Civil Liberties

Is This Preschool Teaching Kids to Snitch on Parents for Using Drugs?

Leave them kids alone



It's never too early to start inundating kids with anti-drug propaganda. At Milton Elementary School in New Jersey, even the preschoolers are being treated to a full week of drug resistance education—perhaps, one parent suggested, to encourage the kids to snitch on their parents.

Milton has kindergarten and preschool classes. According to a schedule of events obtained by Reason, this week was all about saying no to drugs:

Monday (Tomorrow)—Team up to be Drug Free—wear your favorite team jersey

Tuesday – Doing Drugs is just crazy talk or Drugs give you the blues—Crazy hair day or wear something blue or both

Wednesday – Put a Lid on Drugs—Favorite hat

Thursday—Sock it to Drugs or Turn your back on Drugs—Mismatched socks or shirt backwards or both

Friday—Scare Away Drugs—Halloween costume

Keep in mind that these events are being aimed at children as young as three. I seriously doubt that these kids know about drugs, or have any ability to understand the nuances of drug issues (not that "Scare Away Drugs" is a message with any nuance).

Milton's principal did not respond to a request for comment. One parent of a Milton child told Reason the decision to implement the anti-drug training was made at an administrative level, rather than by the teachers. He also said he couldn't help but wonder whether teaching young children to report drug use in their homes was a goal of the program.

That's a criticism often levelled against Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), an international anti-drug organization with a significant presence in American schools. The DARE program deploys police officers to classrooms to preach zero tolerance for drug use, and encourages kids to snitch on their friends family members. Studies have shown over and over again that the DARE approach doesn't work, and may even be worse than nothing. Exposure to DARE programming has been show to occasionally correlate with higher smoking and drinking rates among teens, for instance.

That doesn't mean it's always wrong to teach kids about the hazards of certain drugs. But schools seem almost incapable of doing so in a manner that comports with reality. Responsible anti-drug education would acknowledge that marijuana is comparatively tame and even legal in many cases, and that alcohol abuse is a significantly more threatening problem.

But regardless of whether Milton takes the DARE approach or something else entirely, it's just absurd to begin any anti-drug education in preschool.