Evidence-based D.A.R.E. focuses on decision-making skills

I am writing to express my disappointment in your April 22 article by Andy Steiner, “Dr. Joseph Lee: Focusing on teen opioid use helps limit adult addiction.”  

While we at D.A.R.E would agree with many of the basic principles relating to prevention of drug abuse that Dr. Lee states in his responses to Steiner’s questions, Dr. Lee implies that D.A.R.E. is ineffective. Specifically, your article quotes Dr. Lee as stating:

Prevention science is a lot more sophisticated than DARE. That’s not what happens. If you go to the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), you will find a ton of evidence-based prevention and early intervention models that can be used in a school system or primary care settings for kids. These aren’t fool-poof. They’re not huge. But they are easy to do.

In 2008, D.A.R.E. America formed an alliance with The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) for adoption of the keepin’ it REAL (kiR) curriculum as the D.A.R.E. middle school program. The kiR program, as developed by PSU and Arizona State University with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, went through rigorous longitudinal scientific evaluation and was established as an evidence-based program

Among other positive outcomes, studies have evidenced students completing the kiR program to demonstrate:

  • 32%-44% reduction in marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use
  • 30%-38% increase in knowledge about and negative attitudes towards drug use
  • 29%-34% decrease in intent to accept offers to use substances

Further, a Scientific American article “The New D.A.R.E. Program—This One Works” presents relevant and accurate information about the D.A.R.E. kiR curricula. Launched in 1983, D.A.R.E. is a comprehensive K-12 education program taught not only in Minnesota, but also in thousands of schools throughout America, as well as in 52 other countries. D.A.R.E.’s official mission today is: Teaching students good decision-making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives. 

D.A.R.E. education programs are a collaborative effort of the essential components of a community – students, parents, schools, law enforcement, and community leaders. D.A.R.E. places specially trained law enforcement officers in classrooms who deliver science and evidence-based curricula. While D.A.R.E. curricula address drugs, it also focuses on violence, bullying, internet safety, and other high-risk circumstances that could be a part of the daily life of students. 

Frank Pegueros is the president & CEO of D.A.R.E. America.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/27/2016 - 03:47 pm.

    AA reasoning

    The key statement here is
    “…studies have evidenced students completing the kiR program…”
    Unless one knows the proportion of students who complete the program, one can not evaluate it’s effectiveness. If three quarters of the students who start the program drop out, then the program is helping a very small proportion (about a tenth) of its target population, and cannot be said to be effective.
    Also, Scientific American is a popular magazine (good at what it does), not a peer reviewed scientific journal. Can you provide a better reference?

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