("Drug Abuse Resistance Education") "program". All kids in his entire grade received it as well. Unless a form is not a legally binding contract of some extent, I question why I have to sign something like that in the first place. A signature could mean that I'm either in agreement with something, or I could be potentially waiving any rights I had, as well as my son's rights in this case, so I was VERY wary. The letter never stated why it needed my signature, what the D.A.R.E. program was going to teach my son, where my signature was actually going and to whom, so nothing about it settled well with me. The form said:
"I allow __________ to participate in D.A.R.E."
I didn't know at the time, but I should have received a letter like this one: http://www.dare.com/officers/Officers_OfficerToolkit/Story0b30.asp?N=Officers_OfficerToolkit&S=22&S=131
I don't expect a 10 year old to understand the War on Drugs, how it makes a lot money for many people, how it will never end, was never created to end, how many innocent journalists are killed due to it, and how it only supports really crazy and really dangerous drug cartels and shady governments, our own included. I don't think a child is going to listen to me rattle on about how we've traded guns for drugs, or how cocaine is a schedule II medication as well as drug, and oooooh-- guess where hospitals obtain it from? A child is not going to understand nor listen to a bunch of old, political stuff, talk of money, hospitals, cocaine and not think, "Why is my mother talking about journalists being murdered and what does this have to do with me? Is she crazy? WTF is a cartel?". He'd totally say WTF in his head-- I've heard him whisper the acronym while battling Minecraft Creepers.
At first, I told my son I was not going to sign it. My reasons: I'm against police presence in schools unless clearly needed (it's definitely not needed here); they're not teachers, and why should they teach anyone about drugs? If someone had a problematic drug use issue, they would be the last person to go to. Furthermore, I do not agree that a PUBLIC SCHOOL should attempt to influence a child's "morality" in any way. I'm against supporting anything which promoted the "War on Drugs", which the D.A.R.E. program arose from. I told my son that he could tell his teacher that he will do his own unbiased research about drug abuse in the library during the one hour a week when the other students were "educated" on drug abuse. I thought, " This is prohibition-type 'education' That's gotten us... nowhere in the past, so why the vast majority of schools are continuing to use it is beyond me."
D.A.R.E. is about total abstinence from drugs, alcohol and tobacco as well as reducing gang violence. It also tends to overemphasize that low self-esteem and peer pressure are direct reason for which adolescents abuse drugs. D.A.R.E. also never distinguishes normal use versus harmful abuse. What 5th or 6th grader is going to take a police officer seriously telling them that drinking will always lead to abuse and failure while their mothers and fathers socially and responsibly drink? D.A.R.E.'s full prohibition on even non-problematic use is why it doesn't work. It doesn't work in research data and in real life, as its total abstinence policy does not match society's viewpoints. Ironically, peer pressure seems to be the very foundation on which the program relies on.
"But Mom, if you don't sign it, I'll have to sit in the office", my son told me. I said, "Nonsense. You didn't do anything wrong, so why would you have to sit in the office?". He wasn't kidding. I received a few emails from his teacher the next two days:
"Just a heads up XXXX has not brought back his DARE signature page for the officer yet. Thanks!"
I ignored the email. Guess she never heard the phrase "No answer is your answer"?. The following day I receieved another email from her:
"I have talked with XXXX about his DARE signature page and he has informed me that you refused to sign it. That is absolutely your right to do so, but I need to make you aware that by not signing it, he will not be able to participate in any of the activities in the 10 week program. He will need to go to the office and work on other work at that time when the class is working with DARE materials. We have the program one day a week and when it gets closer to the end we will be making movies, writing essays, seeing guest speakers, and having assemblies for the program that he will have to miss as well.
If you could please let us know in writing that you do not want him to participate that would be great. I can not just go by hear say from a student. Thanks so much!"
Other than my irritation for people who fake exuberance through exclamation points, where to begin? Peer-pressure? Punishment? What the hell were D.A.R.E. materials? Why wasn't I shown these? Why would I have to make a signed statement in writing submitting my refusal to sign another signed paper? Was that not the point of the D.A.R.E. "signature page"? A refusal to sign is my answer, so what was with all the damn paperwork? Can I ask her for documentation of such a policy, because it seems like she's making this up? Some teacher who has her BA degree in Elementary Education is trying to tell me what my absolute rights were? And punishing my son in some bizarre and vague way for what something that is not school-related and is a choice? WTF?!?!? What's with the 10 weeks? My son said 17, and the program letter and websites said 17 weeks. Oh, and did I ever mention how much I hate it when people make "You can choose to do that, but..." statements?
I'm not fan of coercion/guilt/consequence tactics.
I was going to reply:"I'm sure he can go to the library and research drug use and abuse, statistics, etc. from all kinds of resources and not just *one*. Why put him in the office with 'other work'? What kind of work? I do NOT agree that he should be punished for not participating in an optional program that has never had any verifiable results. I can help him with any essays and research at home as well. Thanks for understanding my point of view."
I didn't know how to phrase it without sounding like a total bitch at the time, or how I would say I'm against the War on Drugs, and why, and would she see me as "Pro-Drug" if I did? In any case, I'm certain that my response would have had an "attitude", so I decided not to reply via email. Things were tense for other reasons as it was.
My mother was at my home when I asked for her opinions on what how I should reply, and she said, "Just sign the damn thing, what was the big deal? If you don't sign it, they're going to think that you do drugs. Why oh why do you have to fight everything?". She was of no help. Trying to explain my refusal to submit to weak, faulty, rarely tested science and prohibitionist-like thinking to her and why it would bother me if my son was taught these things was frustrating. Maybe she didn't see things how I saw them.
The big deal? What was the big deal? I didn't want some LEO with zero tolerance viewpoints, likely to be an alcoholic himself, teaching my child about morals. It's a public school, so what makes them even think that they can do this? I'm SURE there's gotta be a law against that specifically. How dare people who claim to be anti- peer pressure use it themselves on my son and I. They can think whatever they want. I am opposed to this whole signing off on things I don't know what I'm signing off from; What's with the veiled punishments and exclusion?. If they need a signature, they're avoiding some Federal Department of Education law and using this weird vague "signature page" as a loophole. That's the big deal.
I was being pressured in many ways. From my son's school/teacher, and it wasn't exactly a good time to appear "Pro-Drug". Which I'm not. Pro-medicine? Yes. And that doesn't even include pot. (There's still some imaginary bomb plotter/medicinal user of marijuana out there! I promise, one day I'll tell you more.) Pressure from my mother who said that my "fighting the system" ways were somehow going to exclude my son and make him an outcast. And pressure from myself. I cannot support something I don't agree with, only to appease others. But I also don't want my son to sit in the office once a week and feel like a freak, or feel like he's done something wrong. All over zero-tolerance attitudes and how I see taking such a stance is a waste of time, money, and a form of social control? That's the big deal.
I was angry that I had to make this decision. I am still really angry that my son had to be involved, and that people-- teachers, his peers, would look down on him in some way, for doing nothing, as he had no choice in if I didn't sign the form. I was angry because he had no control. Sure, he's a child, but they still have choices which aren't always irrational. They have rights, which include privacy and being educated in a doctrine-free environment, yet those were out of his hands. That makes me sooooo angry. When the decisions get placed in my hands, I suddenly become a "weirdo protestor, fighting the system, Pro-Drug, excluding my son from things other parents didn't think twice about". Why didn't I view it like that? It's almost as if no one recalls lessons learned from the Prohibition Era. I hated that this was a Catch 22. And the clock was ticking. The vague signature form was already "late". I didn't want to sign it, but I also didn't want my son to feel as if he had done something wrong.
I really didn't want to tell him the harsh reality of life: That some people value money, power and social influence over others dignity and their own ideologies as to what social norms actually are.
I signed the form. But I needed him to know that I was opposed to it for reasons he probably wouldn't understand or care about, but he could ask me anything. I also needed him to know that we had to have a talk before he attended any D.A.R.E. classes. I told him that opposing the majority is not always wrong, and to think about people like Rosa Parks. Some "policies" and "rules" that were taught are looked back in history as great failures, and that's what the D.A.R.E. program has been for over 30 years, without many recognizing it.
I told him the truth: That what he was going to be taught would probably never apply to his life. I told him if anything, D.A.R.E. makes people more interested in drugs, and it has no effect on his future use or abuse of drugs. I told him that he was going to have a beer, or wine at some point in his life, and most likely at multiple points in his life, and that there was nothing wrong with that. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, and not everyone can even become an alcoholic. I told him that humans have used substances for thousands of years for a variety of reasons, and they usually do it responsibly.
I told him that drug abuse is real, and it's horrible, and it's a problem in many areas all over the world and for society as a whole, and many people have to deal with it. But not the majority of people. And D.A.R.E.'s zero tolerance ideologies with police officers teaching students about drug use and mental health was ridiculous, and not ever going to work, and people just feel comfortable because it's popular. I told him that there's a difference between "use" and "abuse" and D.A.R.E. would not teach him that. Yes, we all can get addicted to a substance, but the chances of getting addicted to alcohol are slim, marijuana none, and tobacco, well, it depends. I asked him, "Do you think I started smoking cigarettes because they were free and I was peer-pressured into it? Not at all. I started smoking because it's an appetite suppressant and I was a chubby teenage girl. It was my choice, and it was actually a main reason why women and girls begin smoking to begin with".
I told him that whatever they try to teach him is VERY biased, filled with false and/or half-true data, and he should not to accept anything as fact or truth. Just like multiple choice answers on tests: The correct answer typically won't have words like "always" and "never", or any absolute value.
And I made him promise to always, always, always question everything told to him, especially if it didn't make sense.
I hated the Catch-22. After the 17 week program is over, they held a graduation event. As "luck" would have it, my son had a dentist cleaning and exam, right in the middle of the graduation. What a shame... When I picked him up for his appointment, he was wearing a D.A.R.E. T-shirt. I asked him why he was wearing it. He said "They told us to". I said "No one can make you wear ANYTHING. Well, except me. But your school is not allowed to tell you that. Do you know that?". Yes, he knew. He rolled his eyes. It must be hell to have a mother like me, always telling him what his rights were, and "always fighting". I could tell he was a little bit angry about the "incidental dental appointment". He said that people will wonder where he was, which he didn't/couldn't/chose not to elaborate on. I asked him what the problem was. He said he would "miss out on a movie, popcorn and candy and playing at the park". I said, "Candy and popcorn? Food can be an addiction, too, and obesity kills WAAAY more people than drugs do. Where's that program?".
Still, in the back of my mind, I could easily tell that he was pressured in some way, and perhaps felt "bad" or guilty for missing the graduation event. The time-frame they provided to parents for the day was off by an hour or so. It also a signature form required for transporting children via bus, but it was also strange, as I'll get into below. After his dentist appointment, we went out for lunch. Driving back home, we saw all of his classmates going into the theater. The graduation form said 12:45 PM, but it was 1:45 PM. He told me that the other kids had left the school at 11 AM. I picked him up at 11:15 AM. He said "Maybe I can play at the park afterwards?". I said, "Sure", thinking, he won't be so mad at me, he can attend the graduation event and hopefully it will ease whatever fucked up pressure anyone put on him. I'll see what this "Culmination Event" was about and learn WTF they taught him and WTF they forgot to teach him and what I need to clear up. Ugh. Did I make a mistake?
The "Graduation Form" was odd. It was also the only invite I ever received, so to hell with D.A.R.E.'s collaborative police/parent/student sham. It had two copies-- One said "School Office Copy" and the other said "File Copy". To whom? The form was only a bus transportation form, so only the school office would need one, so who the hell was "File Copy" for? In six years of field trips and other events, I've never seen a vague "File Copy".
A few children were chosen for "best written essays" and they were awarded with a stuffed lion named Daren, D.A.R.E.'s mascot. Other children cooed at the stuffed lion, each one pulled out of a cheap plastic bag and handed to the winners. I don't think 10-12 year olds can see how cheap displays with photos are just good PR for the LEO and the newspaper. The winners read their essays aloud and they were all the same. "Did you know that...? And NOW I know HOW to make good life choices for everything in my life using the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Method in my life". I wondered, hmm, what is THAT decision method? Like the kids didn't know how to make any tough choices and decisions without D.A.R.E.'s help? They didn't have parents or 10-12 years of LIFE to teach them a thing or two? It all sounded so fake, and it made me wonder-- Is anyone else in this room thinking what I'm thinking? Does anyone else know about D.A.R.E.'s ZERO success rate? Did anyone else wonder why they had to sign a weird and vague signature page? .
I kept hearing the words "stress", "self-esteem" and "peer-pressure" over and over again, and how they were the causes of drug "abuse". They're still using this peer-pressure gimmick? And stress and self-esteem? Never in my life have I met anyone who began to use a substance for those reasons. Laughable, sad, and it's a lie. Lies don't work with children. They'll figure it out and realize the whole thing was bullshit. I never had anyone in my life come up to me pressure me into taking free drugs. I slowly recalled the "drug education" I received in school as a child during one of the monotonous speeches: That there would be zombie-like drug dealers every where I would turn, pressuring me into using drugs! Bad, bad people! As it would turn out, THIS NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
I asked my son where his essay was. He said he never got it back. "Was his essay as manufactured as the others", I wondered to myself? I doubt it. Him, following an obviously structured guideline? HAH! I still wanted to read it, and I wanted to know why it wasn't given back to him if written weeks before. I was hoping that for "The Officer" or perhaps one of the older kids would state a difference between drug use and drug abuse, but that I wasn't expecting it, and it never came up. The "A" in D.A.R.E. is abuse, and they never mention drug use, other than that it makes you a "weak person with no self-respect or self-esteem". Any amount. This was insanity.
I still had to know why my signature was needed. And I went digging. There's a Camus quote on this blog's main page that says, "Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth". It obviously means a lot to me. Sometimes the truth is more disturbing than you thought it would be. You think you'll get most why's at least semi-answered, but you rarely do. Why's turn into more why's, and then they turn into how's with even more why's and I can totally see why Camus once said something to the effect of "The most important decision you make every day is to not kill yourself". Whew. That was his rabbit hole, I guess.
What I found out:
*That there was a "D.A.R.E. Box" in each classroom. Children are told that they can anonymously report anyone, even friends and family members, if they suspect that they're using drugs. Children are told that they won't get in trouble, and neither will whomever they report. They will "help" the person. I asked my son if he had one in his classroom. He confirmed he did, and that it was a "project" made by another child. Child informants? Too weird, and just wrong.
* D.A.R.E. was the product of Darryl Gates, the "paramilitary-style" LAPD Police Chief between 1978 and 1992. The 1991 Rodney King/Police Brutality incident, the riots that followed in 1992, as well as the Christopher Commission that looked into the King incident, forced Gates to step down as Police Chief. Darryl Gates was also considered racist and sexist by many. In 1991, Gates told the Senate Judiciary Committee the following:
*D.A.R.E. has been proven to be consistently ineffective by the US Department of Education, the US Surgeon General, the US Government Accountability Office and the National Institute of Health. That alone should say enough.
*"In D.A.R.E.'s worldview, Marlboro Light cigarettes, Bacardi rum, and a drag from a joint are all equally dangerous. For that matter, so is snorting a few lines of cocaine." -- http://www.druglibrary.org/think/~jnr/truthord.htm
* "It really is irresponsible to place all drugs in the same category,' says Marsha Rosenbaum, who heads the West Coast office of the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy reform organization. 'What I don't want kids to hear is that all drugs and any amount you do will be the road to devastation. Once kids get to an age where they're experimenting . . . they know that is not true, so they throw away the entire prevention message. It isn't really education. It's indoctrination."-- http://www.villagevoice.com/1999-04-06/news/truth-or-d-a-r-e/full/
* I thought, "What about Jewish kids? They're obligated to drink wine on some holidays. What do their parents do? What about Native American children? They're obligated to smoke tobacco for their religious rituals. Does D.A.R.E. not understand a difference between religious and cultural use versus self-destructive abuse? Does D.A.R.E. actually think that people are going to go through life without ever having a cigarette, or ever drinking a beer, or even smoking marijuana? How deluded were they, and why would they teach such nonsense? They no longer take a "Just Say No" approach as they did in the 1980's and 1990's. They now offer a "choice" system, which can allegedly be applied to everything in life according to the speeches I heard today.
*This choice-making system that can be applied to every problem or dilemma is the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Method, or "DDMM", as my son told me. How... Governmental. The DDMM "model", according to D.A.R.E., is:
#1: Define: Describe the problem, challenge or opportunity?
#2: Access: What are your choices?
#3: Respond: Make a choice. Use the facts and information you have gathered.
#4: Evaluate: Review your decision. Did you make a good choice?
^ ^ Cute. It spells DARE... It's repetitive. This sounds like a SWAT team method. If only life were that black and white. Opportunities are rarely problems; Sometimes you don't have many or ANY choices; Is there a decision making method for what to do when you have no choices, no information, and no facts? Good for whom? Who decides what a "good choice" is?
What lunatic wrote this?
*Loopholes? I believe they're using FERPA-- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as a loophole. They may also using a (very little known and well buried) amendment within the No Child Left Behind Act: PPRA-- Protection of Pupil's Rights Amendment. Bolded emphasis is mine.
PPRA: The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (20 U.S.C. § 1232h; 34 CFR Part 98) applies to programs that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). PPRA is intended to protect the rights of parents and students in two ways:
- It seeks to ensure that schools and contractors make instructional materials available for inspection by parents if those materials will be used in connection with an ED-funded survey, analysis, or evaluation in which their children participate; and
- It seeks to ensure that schools and contractors obtain written parental consent before minor students are required to participate in any ED-funded survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning:
- Political affiliations;
- Mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student and his/her family;
- Sex behavior and attitudes;
- Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior;
- Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
- Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; or
- Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
"... No student shall be required...to submit without prior consent to psychiatric...treatment."
Psychiatric treatment is defined as:
"an activity involving the planned, systematic use of methods or techniques that are not directly related to academic instruction and that is designed to affect behavioral, emotional, or attitudinal characteristics of an individual or group." D.A.R.E. , influencing behavioral characteristics and attitudes towards things?
*I never received nor saw a single sheet of my son's D.A.R.E. workbook. I asked him to bring it home. He replied, "We're not allowed". Whaaa? Thought I had the legal right to inspect any materials "used on" my child?
* I requested a few materials from D.A.R.E.'s website which I assumed were available to all. This was the email I received:
I would recommend visiting NIDA's website, www.drugabuse.gov, as this site has a wealth of information ready for download and use. Their information is available for teachers, parents and students of all grade levels. You may also request publications from this site and they are provided free of charge.
*The materials I requested did not state that they were only available to officers. NIDA makes no mention of D.A.R.E. either.
* Are negative scientific-based D.A.R.E. reviews hidden from society? Does D.A.R.E. intimidate people? Possible damning evidence:
"One of the most respected academic journals in its field, The American Journal of Public Health accepted the RTI [*Research Triangle Institute; also very well respected] paper after it had been peer reviewed. Sabine Beisler, Public Health's director of publication, told USA Today that 'DARE has tried to interfere with the publication of this. They tried to intimidate us.' Beisler declines further comment, except to confirm that she was accurately quoted, and that the journal received several calls from DARE America." [Dare America is behind the merchandising-- the T-shirts, the rulers, the pencils, etc. http://darecatalog.com/Default.asp]
"Director Jeremy Travis replied in one letter to the editor: Questions about 'the scientific validity' of the study were raised by NIJ [ National Institute of Justice] reviewers, and the work did not meet their 'high standards of methodological rigor.'"
When a negative research review comes out, D.A.R.E. tends to re-think its program: "In the eyes of the Justice Department, in other words, all the research that proves DARE ineffective is now invalid. This position infuriates many researchers, who view it as a disingenuous attempt to deflect criticism. Claiming that a revised program is entirely new is a well-known academic shell game. 'There's not a new curriculum--there's a slightly changed curriculum,' argues Richard Clayton, director of the Center of Prevention Research at the University of Kentucky. Clayton, who is now concluding a five-year evaluation of DARE in Kentucky, says his findings also match the conclusions in the RTI study."--All quotes from http://reason.com/archives/1995/03/01/drug-prevention-placebo/8
Clayton said the following in 1996:
"Although no one knows for sure why DARE has not caused lasting behavioral changes... it makes some assumptions that are not backed by research. For example, one lesson is devoted to self-esteem. And yet... researchers have found 'very little correlation between drug use and self esteem'."
*This makes sense to me. As I heard the essay winners go on and on about self-esteem, I was trying to think of any addicts or drug abusers OR users who "took drugs because they had low-self-esteem"-- I couldn't think of a single person. If someone were to ask me why people decide to use drugs, I would say... Boredom, experimentation, rebellion.
Kevin J. Skazalsk-- Eastern Michigan University
I can't seem to find out much about this man, and by the subtitle "An applied research project..." it appears that he may have written this as a Graduate Student. He seems very non-biased in this report from 2004, and even tries to pick out the good parts of D.A.R.E. (i.e., its popularity) while giving it an honest yet not so positive review. I think those who say D.A.R.E. critics are "Pro-Drug" or "Jealous of the competition" would be hard pressed to find either of those in Kevin J. Skazalski's review:
The DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program in existence since 1983 is the most prevalent anti-drug use program in existence. It is used in 80% of the school districts nationwide (General Accounting Office, 2003) and in at least 41 other countries.
The evidence documenting the lack of efficacy of DARE is so overwhelming as
to merit a discussion as to why it remains so popular... Consideration and review of the
potential harm done by continuing to employ an ineffectual program is also given.
Unfortunately, repeatedly and overwhelmingly DARE has been shown to be
extremely ineffective at deterring adolescents from substance abuse. University
studies conducted to exacting standards and held to rigorous review have failed to
make DARE’s failures common knowledge to the public. Surprisingly, after original studies, meta-analysis reviews, follow-up studies, and government criticism, DARE remains more popular than ever.
Science needs to be the driving force behind not only an unbiased review of the DARE Program, but also behind finding reasons for its failure and providing appropriate alternatives. Only science and not emotional attachment or sentimentality can provide us with a realistic foundation upon which to build a functional solution to the substance abuse problem.
DARE’s Scientific Advisory Board bases the content and design of their curriculum on social influence theory. Accordingly, they postulate that knowledge and the correct attitude
towards illicit drugs when combined with self-esteem, assertiveness, the ability to defend one’s position,and the facility to resist peer pressure all play a role in one’s ability to avoid drugs (Curtis, 1999).
Truth or DARE: A Literature Review of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program as Documented in Scientific Studies and Analyses 1992 - 2004
Kevin J. Skazalski
Eastern Michigan University
*I realize I'm not the only one who seems to have issues!:
Although each child is given a D.A.R.E. "workbook," students are encouraged to leave them at school and not take them home.
D.A.R.E. is based on unproven, and likely false, educational hypotheses, the most notorious one of which is that using drugs is a symptom of low self esteem, or of high stress. Thus casual, responsible use of any drug (alcohol, caffeine, tobacco) by parents or anyone else is to be seen as pathological, i.e., "abuse." From this dubious premise, it is alleged that self-esteem can be "built" by reciting state-sponsored catechisms. These catechisms consist of claims of "rights" which are said to have been conferred on fifth grade D.A.R.E. students. They include the "right to be happy" and the "right to be respected."--http://www.drcnet.org/DARE/section6.html
... Here's the D.A.R.E. song about these "rights". It's even creepier seeing your own child singing this song with their entire grade . They looked like sheep, no kidding. I told my son that without some sort of attitude, people would have no personality and no self-esteem or strength.
And now I feel guilty for not sticking to my gut-feelings. It's difficult to chose between your opinions, when you know they're not extreme yet everyone else fails to see how theirs actually are, and having your child as the unintended pawn, and certainly not out of your own volition.
Maybe I should have said, "I'll pick him up for that hour", or just went into the office that day and hour every week, without notice. I regret it. It bashes science and this isn't the 1930's. That should have been my answer and my only answer.
I realize that it all comes down to people not realizing things (D.A.R.E. is total abstinence?), popular politics, and those in political poistions who are't willing to lose votes because parents and teachers think that this BS is actually working, and they're the voters. And you idiots can't use children as pawns.
WISE UP. I'm not signing a damn thing involving Prohibition. Or against science.