Attorney General Jeff Sessions is advocating to reinstate the D.A.R.E. program, an anti-drug curriculum launched in 1983 by the Los Angeles Police Department, which has been criticized for being ineffective.
“D.A.R.E. is, I think, as I indicated, the best remembered anti-drug program today,” Sessions said while speaking at the Drug Abuse Resistance Education International Training Conference in Texas on Tuesday, via NY Daily News. “In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.”
“We know it worked before and we can make it work again,” he continued.
The program is already making a comeback in several communities, according to D.A.R.E.’s website, with Weymouth, MA, and Lake County, FL, among the areas to recently revive the program.
Sessions added that the Department of Justice would work together with state and local authorities, along with its enlisting D.A.R.E., to stop drug dealers.
“We need you,” Sessions said. “We need D.A.R.E. to prevent them from finding new victims. We need your strong leadership to deny them new customers.”
While D.A.R.E, has strong name recognition, its effectiveness has been disputed. The program typically involves uniformed police officers trained in the curricula speaking to students about the dangers of drugs while highlighting the advantages of being drug-free.
In a 1998 report to Congress, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service found that the program did not reduce substance abuse, citing the content and teaching methods and its use of police officers as possibly contributing to the weak evaluations. “No scientific evidence suggests that the D.A.R.E. core curriculum as originally designed or revised in 1993, will reduce substance use in the absence of continued instruction more focused on social competency development.”
As Scientific American points out, “the program does little or nothing to combat substance use in youth.” In its early 2014 report, it cited several studies that indicated that teens enrolled in the program were just as likely to use drugs whether they had gone through the D.A.R.E. program or not. However, Scientific American later reported that one of D.A.R.E.’s hands-on programs, “keepin’ it REAL,” which was shaped with the input of prevention specialists, has had positive results in studies.