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D.A.R.E. Responds to False New York Times Article

Posted on October 6, 2016 by in News, Spotlight

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The October 4th New York Times article entitled, The 4 Traits that Put Kids at Risk for Addiction, by Maia Szalavitz advocates for a newly marketed anti-drug program by falsely denigrating the D.A.R.E. program that is taught in thousands of schools throughout America and in 52 other countries.

In her article, Ms. Szalavitz’s implies that she personally took the D.A.R.E. program…she could not have since she graduated from high school the year D.A.R.E. was launched in Los Angeles elementary schools.  She further states that the program uses scare tactics to educate students to not use drugs…D.A.R.E. has never used such tactics.

If the reporter had conducted more thorough research about D.A.R.E. for her article, she would have learned that, in 2008, D.A.R.E. America formed an alliance with The Pennsylvania State University for adoption of the keepin’ it REAL (kiR) curriculum as the D.A.R.E. middle school program.  The kiR program was developed by PSU and Arizona State University, with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse utilizing rigorous longitudinal scientific evaluations to create this evidence-based program.

D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL curricula teaches decision making, risk assessment, self-control, as well as communication and relationship skills.  Its approach has proven effective in reducing adolescent drug use and providing students with the skills necessary to avoid high risk behaviors.  The curricula adhere to relevant principles from the National Institute of Health’s Lessons from Prevention ResearchA cost benefit analysis funded by SAMSHA shows that the program returns $28 for every $1 spent because it is effective in preventing people from  needing much costlier treatment.

As the above demonstrates, Ms. Szalavitz has failed to conduct basic journalistic due diligence.  Rather, she appears to have relied upon information provided by a commercial entity marketing its own program.  If she had simply reviewed a September 10, 2014, Scientific American article entitled, The New D.A.R.E. Program…This One Works, (www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-new-d-a-r-e-program-this-one-works/), she would have learned from an independent, reliable journal that, “… the D.A.R.E. substance-abuse curriculum focuses on elementary and middle-school students’ decisions, not drugs.”

D.A.R.E.’s official mission today is teaching students good decision-making skills for safe and healthy living.  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 that teach students good decision-making skills that will help them lead safe and healthy lives. While D.A.R.E. curricula address drugs, they also focus on violence, bullying, internet safety, and other high risk circumstances that could be a part of a student’s daily life.

To ensure that your readers have current information, we ask that the New York Times either publishes this email as a letter or Op-Ed, or considers reporting on today’s D.A.R.E. program.

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