|Could DARE finally have come to its senses regarding marijuana?|
Nearly 100 students who graduated from the Sunset View Elementary DARE program in Kennewick, Washington, will be the last group to be taught the potential dangers of marijuana, said the Kennewick Police Department's DARE officer, Mike Meyer.
"The new curriculum starts as of December for us here in Kennewick," Meyer said. "It does not bring up the subject of marijuana at all."
|DARE Officer Mike Meyer: "The new curriculum starts as of December for us here in Kennewick. It does not bring up the subject of marijuana at all"|
Meyer, who has been devoting an entire lesson to marijuana, has been Kennewick's DARE officer for six years. He said he didn't know why the national parent organization that oversees the DARE program has deleted cannabis from its program.
Of course, cannabis should never have been a part of the program to begin with. The overblown "dangers" touted by the inaccurate and borderline-ridiculous DARE program serve only to destroy the credibility of the curriculum itself -- a very dangerous thing, since it is also supposed to inform young people about the very real dangers of drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Lots of young people -- upon hearing the nonsense DARE spouts about marijuana -- stop believing everything else they say, and start entertaining thoughts like "they're probably lying about meth, too." Not a good thing.
TIME Magazine's Jessica Reaves reported back in 2001 that "Just Say No" is not an effective anti-drug message. After years of ignoring stubbornly low success rates, coordinators of the DARE program -- then already 18 years old -- were faced with the fact that their plan to keep kids of drugs just wasn't working.
The program was plagued by image problems from the beginning, when it first latched onto Nancy Reagan's mindlessly simplistic "Just Say No" campaign. According to an article published in the August 1999 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, DARE not only did not reduce teenagers' rates of experimentation with drugs, but may also have actually lowered their self-esteem.
That study, called "Project DARE: No Effects at 10-Year Follow-Up," bluntly deconstructed every claim the DARE program makes. Twenty-year-olds who had taken DARE classes in middle school were no less likely to have smoked marijuana or tobacco, drunk alcohol, used cocaine or heroin, or caved in to peer pressure than kids who'd never been exposed to DARE.
"Surprisingly," the article added, "DARE status in the sixth grade was negatively related to self-esteem at age 20, indicating that individuals who were exposed to DARE in the sixth grade had lower levels of self-esteem 10 years later."
Another study, performed at the University of Illinois, suggested that some high school seniors who'd been forced to attend DARE classes were even more likely to use drugs than their non-DARE peers.