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On The Ropes: DARE, the worldwide program that puts cops in 5th and 6th grade classes to teach kids about drug abuse, has taken a lot of knocks in recent years. Critics charge that DARE has no lasting impact. One study even found increased drug use among suburban kids who participated in the program. A number of cities have dropped it. But, as Jennifer Gonnerman reports in the April 7-13 issue of the Village Voice, 80 percent of U.S. school districts continue to teach with DARE.

The largest program in the country is in New York City, where 271 elementary schools have DARE. But the critics apparently have put DARE on the defensive. According to Gonnerman, DARE's president, Glenn Levant, is working behind the scenes to bolster the program's image.

"Mounting criticism-and prodding from Congress-has led DARE to solicit advice from its fiercest critics," Gonnerman reports, adding that DARE leaders have met twice in recent months with several drug-prevention researchers who have exposed the program's failings.

One of those critics, Richard Clayton, describes the first meeting as "blunt and bloody." But by the next meeting, according to Gonnerman, "the researchers and DARE officials had smoothed out their differences and together drafted a plan to conduct a long-term study of other drug-prevention curriculums." Levant told Gonnerman, "We're very willing to change. If someone's got a better mousetrap, we'll use it."

--David Hill

Vol. 10, Issue 8, Page 15

Published in Print: May 1, 1999, as Clippings
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