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Numerous cities are daring to drop DARE

By Hempology | June 28, 2002

From DRCnet, issues 240, 241 (June 2002)

Fort Worth, TX, Police Chief Ralph Mendoza has eliminated funding for Cowtown’s Drug Abuse Resistance and Education (DARE) program. DARE is widely used in elementary school drug prevention curricula despite repeated studies that have found the program has little or no impact on future drug use by participants. Mendoza told the Fort Worth city council on Tuesday that the program had ended with the school year and would not be reinstated in the fall.

“DARE has not been shown to reduce narcotics use by youth,” Mendoza told the city council. “The program is too cumbersome and doesn’t have enough flexibility.”

Mendoza’s move came in response to a yearlong study that offered 266 specific recommendations for streamlining the police department. In the department’s first response to the $1.2 million study, Chief Mendoza also slashed the police gang-prevention unit by more than half.

This week Toledo, OH, joined the growing number of cities and states that have dumped DARE. So far, that list also includes Salt Lake City, Snohomish County (suburban Seattle, WA) and the Michigan State Police.

In Toledo, Police Chief Michael Navarre told public and Catholic school officials on Monday that DARE was dead with the end of the school year. Navarre cited a series of studies questioning DARE’s effectiveness, dating back to a 1994 National Institute of Justice review that found DARE had little or no impact on whether participants would go on to use alcohol or other drugs. Navarre had long been a DARE supporter, he told the Toledo Blade, but the accumulating studies questioning the program and DARE America’s announcement last year it would revamp its curriculum prompted his decision.

But Navarre and school board members vowed to develop a new anti-drug program also using police officers as in-school presenters. “We’re not going to walk away from drug education in the elementary schools,” said Chief Navarre. “It is an important aspect of a child’s education.”

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