Results of Justice's DARE Study Not Published
The Justice Department declined to publish a federally-funded study about the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (DARE) (Dennis Cauchon, "Study Critical of DARE Rejected," USA Today, Oct. 4, 1994, p. 2A). The study, conducted by the Research Triangle Institute, concludes that DARE is ineffective in reducing drug use among children. Ann Voit of the National Institute of Justice, the independent research arm of the Justice Department and one of the funders of the study, said, "We're not trying to hide the study, we just do not agree with one of the major findings."
DARE spokesperson Roberta Silverman criticized the study's sampling techniques, questioning whether the study is relevant. She said that the tactics now used in the classroom are more interactive than those examined in the study. The study uses "old data from old studies about a curriculum that's not taught anymore," according to Silverman.
Against resistance from DARE officials, the American Journal of Public Health decided to publish the results of the study in their September 1994 issue (Susan T. Evans, Nancy S. Tobler, Christopher L. Ringwalt, and Robert L. Flewelling, "How Effective Is Drug Abuse Resistance Education? A Meta-Analysis of Project DARE Outcome Evaluations," American Journal of Public Health, vol. 84, no. 9 (Sept. 1994): p. 1394-1401). "DARE tried to interfere with the publication of this [study], they tried to intimidate us," Sabine Beister of the Journal told USA Today. Journal experts examined the DARE study and found it to be statistically sound.
The study not only finds DARE not effective in curbing drug use (excluding tobacco) among adolescents, it finds it less effective than other drug education programs. The authors did find that DARE was more effective in increasing knowledge, skills, and attitudes among young people. The authors suggest that one reason for DARE's problems may be that police officers teach the lessons. "Despite the extensive DARE training received by law enforcement officers, they may not be as well-equipped to lead the curriculum as teachers" (p. 1398).
The study concludes by contrasting DARE's high profile with its effectiveness. "DARE's limited influence on adolescent drug use behavior contrasts with the program's popularity and prevalence. An important implication is that DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug use curricula that adolescents could be receiving" (p. 1399).
The study was funded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, US Department of Health and Human Services. [To obtain a copy of this study, contact NCJRS at 301-251-5500. The order number is 150713, and there is a $25.00 charge.]