DARE is popular and well-funded, at least in the United States. However, numerous scientific studies of the program report that D.A.R.E. does not actually decrease drug use among graduates. Some studies have even indicated that there is an increased rate of drug use among D.A.R.E. graduates. In 2001, the Surgeon General of the United States placed the D.A.R.E. program in the category of "Does Not Work".
The D.A.R.E. program enables students to interact with police officers or sheriffs in a controlled, safe, classroom environment. This helps students and officers meet and understand each other in a friendly manner, instead of having to meet when a student commits a crime, or when officers must intervene in domestic disputes and severe family problems. The Surgeon General reports that positive effects have been demonstrated regarding attitudes towards the police.
It is also a crime and violence prevention education program. The D.A.R.E. program cites cases where assertiveness and self-defense education helped prevent students from being harmed. D.A.R.E. officers also help schools when children are threatened, and their presence helps alleviate concerns about situations like school shootings and other threats of violence to children while at school.
In 2007, a new curriculum for prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter drug abuse was created by D.A.R.E. America. Other contributors included: law enforcement officials; PhRMA; Abbott Laboratories; the Consumer Healthcare and Products Association (CHPA); and a number of other organizations, including the ONDCP, the DEA, the FDA, the NIDA, the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
The senior high school D.A.R.E. project is a reinforcement with the prime lessons for students
After the 1994 Research Triangle Institute study, an article in the New Times Los Angeles stated that the “organization spent $41,000 to try to prevent widespread distribution of the RTI report and started legal action aimed at squelching the study.” The director of publication of the American Journal of Public Health told USA Today that "D.A.R.E. has tried to interfere with the publication of this. They tried to intimidate us." After reporter Dennis Cauchon published a story questioning the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. in USA Today, he received letters from classrooms around the country, all addressed to "Dear D.A.R.E.-basher," and all using nearly identical language.
"D.A.R.E. America also has been very successful in marketing its program to the news media through a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign that highlights its popularity while downplaying criticism."
Psychologists at the University of Kentucky concluded that "continued enthusiasm [for D.A.R.E.] shows Americans' stubborn resistance to apply science to drug policy.
Jennifer Gonnerman of the Village Voice stated in 1999, "In D.A.R.E.'s worldview, Marlboro Light cigarettes, Bacardi rum, and a drag from a joint are all equally dangerous. For that matter, so is snorting a few lines of cocaine." D.A.R.E. "isn't really education. It's indoctrination.
In addition, "D.A.R.E. officers are instructed to put a 'D.A.R.E. Box' in every classroom, into which students may drop 'drug information' or questions under the pretense of anonymity. Officers are instructed that if a student 'makes a disclosure related to drug use,' the officer should report the information to further authorities, both school and police. This apparently applies whether the 'drug use' was legal or illegal, harmless or harmful. In a number of communities around the country, students have been enlisted by the D.A.R.E. officer as informants against their parents.
As a result, "children sometimes confide the names of people they suspect are illegally using drugs. A mother and father in Caroline County, Maryland, were jailed for 30 days after their daughter informed a police D.A.R.E. instructor that her parents had marijuana plants in their home, according to a story in The Washington Post in January 1993. The Wall Street Journal reported in 1992 that ‘In two recent cases in Boston, children who had tipped police stepped out of their homes carrying D.A.R.E. diplomas as police arrived to arrest their parents.’ In 1991, 10-year-old Joaquin Herrera of Englewood, Colorado, phoned 911, announced, ‘I'm a D.A.R.E. kid’ and summoned police to his house to discover a couple of ounces of marijuana hidden in a bookshelf, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The boy sat outside his parents' home in a police patrol car while the police searched the home and arrested the parents. The policeman assigned to the boy's school commended the boy's action.
"In the official D.A.R.E. Implementation Guide, police officers are advised to be alert for signs of children who have relatives who use drugs. D.A.R.E. officers are first and foremost police officers and thus are duty-bound to follow up leads that might come to their attention through inadvertent or indiscreet comments by young children.
D.A.R.E. America has generally dismissed the criticisms and scientific studies of its program, labeling them false, misleading, or biased.
"D.A.R.E. has long dismissed criticism of its approach as flawed or the work of groups that favor decriminalization of drug use," according to the New York Times. In a press release titled "Pro-drug Groups Behind Attack on Prevention Programs; D.A.R.E. Seen as Target as Mayors' Conference Called to Combat Legalization Threat," D.A.R.E. asserted that pro-drug legalization individuals and groups were behind criticisms of the program, which were portrayed as based on "vested interests" and "to support various individual personal agendas at the expense of our children.
D.A.R.E. has also attacked critics for allegedly being motivated by their financial self-interest in programs that compete with D.A.R.E.. It has charged that "they are setting out to find ways to attack our programs and are misusing science to do it. The bottom line is that they don't want police officers to do the work, because they want it for themselves. Critics have also been dismissed as simply being jealous of D.A.R.E.'s success.
D.A.R.E. tends to rely on feelings and impressions. One leader explained that "I don't have any statistics for you. Our strongest numbers are the numbers that don't show up.” The 1998 University of Maryland report presented to the U.S. National Institute of Justice stated, "Officials of D.A.R.E. America are often quoted as saying that the strong public support for the program is a better indicator of its utility than scientific studies."
One D.A.R.E. supporter has observed that "the group is its own worst enemy because it has spent so much effort attacking the evaluators, rather than learning from research."
D.A.R.E. America is funded largely as a crime prevention program working through education within schools. It receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration, U.S. Office of Justice and Delinquency Prevention, corporations, foundations, individuals and other sources. In addition, state training and local programs typically receive funding from state legislature appropriations, state agencies, counties, cities, school districts, police agencies, individuals, and community fund raisers and other sources.
The D.A.R.E T-shirt is a T-shirt awarded to students in the U.S. and in other countries who complete the D.A.R.E program and pledge to stay drug-free. The D.A.R.E. program now authorizes screen-printers to license their graphics. D.A.R.E. programs can create their own personalized shirts with different colors that incorporate the D.A.R.E. logo and either a school or local police agency logo.
The standard (and most recognized) shirt design is a black tee with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) logo in red and accompanying text underneath in white printed on the front of the shirt. 'To Keep Kids Off Drugs' or 'To Resist Drugs and Violence' are common phrases printed on the shirt. The D.A.R.E. T-shirt was adopted from the Black concert T-shirt is associated with rock concerts. The classic black t-shirt has become a pop culture icon among youth and young adults in the U.S.
The sheriff of Lake County, Florida, explains that "all workbooks, materials and the very popular T-shirts must be purchased by the Sheriff's Office from D.A.R.E. America Inc. Often, the material and T-shirts could be purchased locally at less expense." He was surprised and disappointed to learn that the not-for-profit D.A.R.E. corporation now also promotes the sale of its merchandise by for-profit businesses. These private companies can make 80% profit. Of the 20% returned to D.A.R.E. America, Inc., by the companies, none is returned to the local areas from which the profits are derived to support the program.
The D.A.R.E. T-shirt has inspired parody T-shirts featuring backronyms such as "Drugs Are Really Excellent". One hemp enthusiast, Mark Hornaday, faced a 4-year prison term and a $20,000 fine from charges filed by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office in 1995. Hornaday created and sold a parody t-shirt, with the inscription, "I turned in my parents and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". NORML defended the suit on free-speech grounds. Charges were eventually dropped.
A number of D.A.R.E. programs in local police departments have some vehicles marked as police cars to promote the program. The D.A.R.E. cars appear at schools in parades. Typically these cars are high-end or performance cars that have been seized in a drug raid. They are used to send the message that drug dealers forfeit all their glamorous trappings when they get caught. D.A.R.E. cars can also be regular police vehicles that are nearing the end of their service life that are pressed into service for the promotion, or new police cars outfitted especially for the D.A.R.E. program.
The D.A.R.E UK program is currently operating in the following areas:
The program aims to: