What is the Truth?
Well, obviously we don't purport to have all the answers, but we think the truth will never be found unless we - parents, citizens, educators, whatever - find the courage to ask some difficult questions of drug education today. (If we don't, you can be sure that political leaders and government authorities never will.) Since DARE is the most visible and prominent example of drug education in public schools today, it is fitting and proper that these questions be directed to DARE. Here are a few questions we'd ask DARE if we had a chance. 1. Recent statistics indicate that as DARE spreads throughout the nation, drug use among young people is way up. Does DARE accept the recent statistics as truthful? If so, what responsibility is DARE accepting for this failure of drug education? What changes is DARE making to its program? Is DARE prepared to admit its inefficacy, or does it employ a meagre measure of success? 2. Is lifetime abstinence from all drugs truly a realistic goal of drug education? Why can't DARE acknowledge the painful truth that most adults who use drugs - legal or illegal - do so responsibly, without discernible injury to themselves or others? Staying out the minority - those who do injure themselves or others - is what drug education should be all about, it seems to us. Why does DARE maintain this fantasy of lifetime abstinence, and selective blindness ? (By the way, we note that DARE expects students to take a "no drug use" pledge. Are officers required to take the same pledge?) 3. Why does your video, "The Land of Choices and Decisions," treat adults so contemptuously? Every adult character - with the exception of the DARE officer and the teacher - is either a drug abuser, a drug dealer, or senile. What are you trying to teach them about other adults? Why is this portrait so disdainful of the truth? 4. Here's an easy one: Where's the hard scientific evidence that says that (1) "self-esteem" can be "taught" (as DARE so attempts), and (2) once it is "learned," a kid won't try drugs? Isn't all this "self-esteem" stuff basically a lot of seventies psychobabble? Does any serious scientist accept it today? Don't kids have to earn self-esteem by hard work and accomplishment, not learn it by reciting a state-sponsored catechism? 5. And finally, a softball: The fact that police officers have stepped in to provide drug education in public schools underlines DARE's mission of reinforcing prohibitionist doctrine (i.e., keeping the drug laws as they are). What is the basis for DARE's faith in prohibition? How long will you give it to work? How many more people must be arrested before we can declare victory? What is victory in the drug war? Well, we hope these questions will provoke some dialogue. Please let us hear from you. (Maybe you can tell us the truth! :-)) Don't forget to check out the many other DARE-related links on this site. Thank you for reading this.
(Reported by researcher Lloyd Johnson at the University of Michigan, who conducts, with government sponsorship, the nationwide "Monitoring the Future" Survey.) A third of eighth-graders, mostly 13-year olds, report using illegal drugs. Marijuana use more than doubled among eighth-graders between 1991 and 1994. Two-thirds of eighth-graders have tried alcohol. A quarter say they still drink. Twenty-eight percent say they have been drunk at least once. Smoking among eighth-graders rose 30% between 1991 and 1994.
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