Monday, November 26, 2007

Dare to say No to DARE

Sign of the times? According to Linda Saslow's reporting in the NYTimes school district in Suffolk County New York has announced that it plans to replace its current curriculum based on DARE, for Drug Resistance and Awareness Training, in favor of a more comprehensive health and safety curriculum. DARE, a crime oriented approach to health education in which police officers present curriculum about drugs, alcohol, tobacco and peer influences, was relentlessly promoted by the federal government for decades.

In 2002 a National Academy of Sciences committee assessed the empirical record and found that there was no evidence DARE education improved drug or educational outcomes. In a powerful demonstration of the grip that crime has on our imagination of schools (and everything else), the major response to the study was to try and reinvent the curriculum rather then question its crime and police centered approach.

In calling for a more comprehensive view of health and safety, Suffolk County authorities are helping to shift the knowledge context for parents and students away from America's obsessive focus on crime.

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