Studies Find Public Policies For Children And Teenagers Not Very Effective

D.A.R.E., Sex Education and TV Content Legislation Fall Short of Their Intended Goals

CHICAGO -- Initiating public policies to help educate youths about drugs, curb sexual behavior and regulate children's television programming is popular public policy, but for the most part it has failed to prevent harm. Three studies examining the shortcomings of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), school- based sex education programs and the Children's Television Act (CTA) will be presented at the American Psychological Association's (APA) 105th Annual Convention.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education

Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), the most widely used school-based drug use prevention program, isn't nearly as effective in preventing drug use as policy makers had hoped, says a new study that looks at the program's long-term effects.

"The only clear effect that D.A.R.E. had six years after the program was that male high school seniors who participated in the program used harder drugs like amphetamines/barbiturates, cocaine, LSD significantly less than those males who weren't in the program. The program failed in lessening both male and female students' use of alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana," said sociologist Richard L. Dukes, Ph.D., and psychologists Judith A. Stein, Ph.D., and Jodie Ullman, Ph.D.

In this study, the program was offered to 356 sixth grade students to help build self-esteem, improve decision-making skills, resist peer pressure, increase respect for authority and delay the onset of experimenting with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. These students were compared on life style and drug use with 264 other students who did not participate in the program. Both groups were re-examined six years later when they were in the twelfth grade.

Besides D.A.R.E.'s lack of effect on drug usage, the researchers also found that the program made no difference in a stu

Contact: Pam Willenz
American Psychological Association

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