section one

what is D.A.R.E.?
a brief history and description


The D.A.R.E. program was created in 1983 by Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates. Today, D.A.R.E. is present at more than half of U.S. school districts, in all 50 states and thirteen foreign countries, and has gained enthusiastic support among educators, law enforcement agencies, and the media. It is said to have consumed about $2,286,639.00 in 1996, raised from tax revenue, private donations, and royalties from the sale of merchandise. D.A.R.E. America, the California corporation which controls the curriculum and merchandising, is governed by a a 25-person board of directors which features a number of Hollywood celebrities. Its executive director is Glenn Levant, a former policeman, who according to public record, was paided $232,948.00 in 1996 and $269,703 in 1995.


The gist of the D.A.R.E. program is that uniformed police officers come into mostly fifth-grade classrooms for one hour a week for seventeen weeks, "educating" students to "resist drug abuse." At the beginning of the program, students are required to sign a pledge that they will "keep their body free from drugs." (D.A.R.E. officers are not required to take the same pledge.) At the end of the seventeen weeks, a "culmination ceremony" is held, D.A.R.E. songs are sung and students are presented with D.A.R.E. T-shirts, a certificate, a pin, and a wallet-sized plastic card identifying them as D.A.R.E. graduates.


The Irvine, CA D.A.R.E. team.


Although D.A.R.E. now is principally targeted at fifth graders, plans are afoot in communities to expand it to both higher and lower grades. Some police departments are planning to offer a version of D.A.R.E. for parents.

Despite its popularity, in recent years local communities have begun to look closely at the D.A.R.E. program, questioning its content, cost and effectiveness. Some, including Oakland, California, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, have concluded that it was not delivering as promised, and terminated it. A small town in New England, Ashfield, Massachusetts, appointed a curriculum review committee to review D.A.R.E. and the other tobacco/alcohol/other substances programs and recommended major changes in the curriculum (see DARE-FREE Communities ).

Parents around the country have begun to express serious misgivings about the content of the curriculum, and are particularly worried about its treatment of parents and other (civilian) adults, especially in the introductory D.A.R.E. video, Land of Choices and Decisions. This video, which is shown to all children as part of lesson 2, is widely criticized for depicting all adults as senile, drug pushers or drug abusers...with the exception of the D.A.R.E. officer.


forward to section two:
Is parental consent required for kids to be given D.A.R.E.?


Back to DARE TOC
[ Home - Free sign-up - The Week Online ]