THE D.A.R.E. PROGRAM – HELPING OR HURTING OUR STUDENTS?

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Overview of the DARE Program

In 1983, the nonprofit organization of Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, was developed as an effort to educate students about gangs, alcohol, and drugs. The curriculum aimed to increase awareness in public school systems about drug usage through emphasizing the negative impacts of “gateway drugs.” By preventing use of these “gateway drugs,” such as tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, the program hoped to stop students’ progression toward harder drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and meth. Overall, the program aspired to decrease the prevalence of drug abuse, violence, and criminal activity in the upcoming generations.

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DRUG ABUSE RESISTANCE EDUCATION                                                                                            Image courtesy of http://quincypolice.org/wp- content/uploads/2015/02/DARE.jpg

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How Common?

Today, DARE is the primary drug prevention program in the world. Since its birth in 1983, the DARE program has been taught in 75% of U.S. school districts, all 50 U.S. states, and 48 countries across the globe. Approximately 700,000 police officers have administered the program, reaching over 200 million K-12 students worldwide [1].

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Image courtesy of http://blog.nj.com/somersetreporter_impact/200 9/04/large_pix-0409dare.jpg

 

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Controversy

With the increasing popularity of the DARE program also came increasing criticism. The original belief was that instilling principles about drugs, alcohol, and violence at a young age would ensure that the principles remained firm throughout years of higher schooling; however, multiples studies have shown just the opposite. Critics point out that the program is crucially flawed in that there has been no significant data proving a lasting impact on graduates of the program. On the other hand, proponents argue that there is an impact, and though the impact is small, it is still relevant to maintain the program. Hence arises the controversy of the DARE program – is it of any long-term benefit to students? Or is it a waste of time and money that produces results exactly opposite of its goals?

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Image courtesy of http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_image s/1b/92/16175a370b96133c56e24d5de9d8.jpg

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Pros

 

  • The DARE program helps prevent tobacco use in middle and high school students.
    • Those who participated in the program are five times less likely to begin smoking cigarettes than those who did not participate [2].
  • The DARE program improves decision making about drug usage.
    • The decision-making skills and drug knowledge of DARE participants was found to be 6% higher than that of students who did not participate in the program [3].
  • The DARE program improves relationships between youth and police officers.
    • Studies have shown that after the program, students have gained respect for police officers and recognize that they are not the ‘bad guys’ [4].
  • The DARE program was positively received by parents and students alike.
    • In a survey of 5,376 students and 3,095 parents, 95% of the students felt the program had a significant impact on their decision-making processes in the future, and 99% of the parents felt as though the program benefitted their children [5].

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Cons

  • Instead of decreasing drug use throughout middle and high school, participants of the DARE program may actually be more likely to use drugs.
    • A six-year study of the program found that students who participated had a 3-5% high rate of drug use than those who did not participate [6]. In addition, a different study conducted in 2009 found that alcohol and cigarette usage was 3-4% higher in those who participated in the program compared to those who did not [7].
  • There is no evidence that the DARE program has any positive, lasting impact.
    • Studies have shown that students do not retain the information they learn through the DARE program for more than one or two years [8].
  • The DARE program over-states its message.
    • Students reported that the message delivered by the DARE program was drilled into their heads so often throughout their years at school that the concept virtually lost its significance. 33% of middle school students and 90% of high school students felt that DARE had little to no impact on their decision-making processes regarding drugs [9].
  • The DARE program lures parents into a false state of security.
    • Parents no longer feel a need to talk to their children about the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, and gangs because they assume that the school system has taken over the matter entirely.
  • Execution of the DARE program is extremely expensive.
    • In 2001, it was estimated that the DARE program took $1-1.3 billion annually to carry out [10].

 

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Summary

While it is important to provide education about drugs, alcohol, and violence in our school system, it is also important to regard whether or not this education is being executed successfully. The DARE program was clearly received positively by students and adults alike, and students acknowledged gaining important insight about the harmful effects of drug abuse and criminal activities. However, the information delivered through the program, though valuable, could be considered as ‘in one ear and out the next.’ Students who underwent the program heard and understood the information, but studies have shown that there was no significant impact on their decision-making processes about drug use in the future. There is a definite need for drug, alcohol, and violence education in public school systems for upcoming generations, but the question remains – is DARE really the best solution?

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Image courtesy of https://img1.etsystatic.com/001/0/6992997/il_fu llxfull.403525837_pbn0.jpg

 

[1] “Is the D.A.R.E. Program Good for America’s Kids (K-12)?” ProCon.org. 2015. Web. <http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con>.

[2] Nasar U. Ahmed, Noushin S. Ahmed, C. Ray Bennett, and Joseph E. Hinds, “Impact of a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program in Preventing the Initiation of Cigarette Smoking in Fifth- and Sixth-Grade Students,” Journal of the National Medical Association, Apr. 2002, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[3] “Study Shows New DARE Program Helps Youths Decide against Using Drugs,” Press Release, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website, Oct. 29, 2002, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[4] Augustine Hammond, PhD, et al., “Do Adolescents Perceive Police Officers as Credible Instructors of Substance Abuse Prevention Programs?” Health Education Research, Aug. 2008, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[5] “D.A.R.E.: Drug Abuse Resistance Education: National Client Survey 2007,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Survey, www.dare.com, 2007, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[6] Dennis Rosenbaum, PhD, and Gordon Hanson, PhD, “Assessing the Effects of School-based Drug Education: A 6-year Multilevel Analysis of Project D.A.R.E.,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Nov. 1998, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[7] Zili Sloboda, ScD, et al., “The Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study: A Randomized Field Trial of a Universal Substance Abuse Prevention Program,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Jan. 21, 2009, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[8] Dennis Rosenbaum, PhD, “Just Say No to D.A.R.E.,” Criminology & Public Policy, Nov. 29, 2007, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

[9] Denise Hamilton, “The Truth about DARE: The Big-Bucks Antidrug Program for Kids Doesn’t Work,” Los Angeles New Times, Mar. 20, 1997, accessed through http://dare.procon.org/#pro_con

A Better Solution to Chronic Physical Pain

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Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.47.16 PMMost Probable Condition

Chronic back pain

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Chronic Back Pain Overview

Chronic back pain often results from an accumulation of stress in the back muscles (latissimus dorsi). Few treatment methods have proved successful as long-term solutions to chronic back pain. “Prescribed” exercises (such as aerobics or core-strengthening work-outs) are known to ease back pain, but not fully heal it [1].

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How Common?

One in four Americans experience back pain at some point, making it the most common source of pain and discomfort in Western societies [1].

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Treatment

The Alexander Technique, a technique which is designed to help people eradicate bad habits that are detrimental to “postural tone and neuromuscular coordination,” has been used as a successful form of treatment for chronic back pain [1].

The initial lessons involve the assessment of a patient’s skeletal alignment while the patient is stationary and while the patient is mobile in order to conclude the source of the pain. Once the source of the pain has been pinpointed, the instructor focuses on releasing tension in the head, neck, and spinal muscles, paying specific attention to decompressing the spine. This process is accomplished through massage or through verbal instruction, and typically occurs while the patient is lying down. The instructor encourages the patient to be aware of his/her body, and teaches the patient how to relax the muscles that are causing the problem. Ultimately, the release of tension and the decompression of the spine alleviate the original back pain while also preventing muscles spasms, strengthening postural muscles, and improving coordination, among other physical benefits [2].

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Self-Care

The purpose of Alexander Technique is to educate people not only how to get rid of the pain in the moment, but also how to keep it from coming back. This is done through teaching bodily awareness – it is important that one is aware of his/her body, and does not simply drag it around during the day, allowing it to become a cesspool for stress and toxins. Bodily awareness teaches people how to physically take care of themselves through relaxation, movement, and proper alignment. In contrast to other forms of treatment, Alexander Technique educates people on how to take care of their bodies in the long-term, not just while it is injured.

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Made Worse By

Chronic back pain is made worse by improper treatment. As back pain is a common issue, many people choose to alleviate the pain by taking over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen, or by taking stronger prescription medications, such as Relafen or Celebrex. Though these drugs do provide temporary relief, the issue is that these drugs do not heal the back issue – they merely mask the immediate pain. Most people are under the impression that, with the help of a few drugs, they can just ‘wait out’ the pain and it will heal itself; however, this is not the case. In order for back pain to truly go away, one must learn how to properly take care of his/her body to prevent unwanted muscle tension and naturally alleviate the condition.

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[1] Hollinghurst, S., and P. Little. “Randomised Controlled Trial of Alexander Technique Lessons, Exercise, and Massage (ATEAM) for Chronic and Recurrent Back Pain: Economic Evaluation.” BMJ 337 (2008): n. pag.BMJ. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. <http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a884.full?gca=337%252Faug19_2%252Fa884&sendit=Get%20All%20Checked%20Abstract%2528s%2529>.

[2] “The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique.” The Global Online Guide for the Alexander Technique. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2015. <http://www.alexandertechnique.com/>.