"Just Say No!" I think we all remember being raised on that anti-drug slogan preached from the school auditorium. As a young kid I remember sitting on the gym floor during one of their revivals and having this inner dialogue:
1. What ARE drugs??
2. They must be a big deal because all the grown ups are getting real worked up about them.
3. EVERYBODY must be doing them.
4. I'm really curious....
I followed up on my curiousity, harmlessly, by making my own chart of all the different kinds of drugs complete with a plastic baggy "sample" of what they looked like. On my poster I wrote "cocaine" and stapled a plastic bag with a little powdered sugar. For marijuana, dried crushed leaves, etc. My high school brother was a tremendously helpful resource in my quest to name and identify street drugs. When I was done with my project I proudly showed it to my mom and was surprised at her response: Shock and Horror! "Why are you doing this???" I think it just showed an early proclivity for the medical field.
I have never had a desire to do drugs. I had good friends who felt the same. Had I been a recalcitrant youth, or wanted to rebel, a path toward drugs and the vices that go with it would have been the clear choice. Amazingly to me, I've never even been offered drugs in my 30+ years of life--that is until last week. I was walking to my hotel after visiting my mom when I was invited inside someone's apt. to help myself to a mountain of cookies, and by the way, they offered, "do you smoke weed?" Interesting timing based on last week's events..."I don't, thanks. I prefer to de-stress by passing out:)?!" Of course, I only said the first part.
So, let's hop off memory lane to the present:
Our 5th grader Kate, was recently asked to write a paper about what she learned from the D.A.R.E program this year. All I've heard from her about the program up to now are complaints, "We had to miss recess again just so they could tell us not to do Mary-jew-wanna."
I didn't tell her my above feelings... but I did tell her she was free to do some internet research and find out for herself the effectiveness of DARE.
Ohhh, she did that alright.
She wrote a paper that stirred the pot of controversy and got all the teachers, officers, and principal talking...I didn't actually get to read it before she turned it in but her very concerned teacher called to let me know what it said:
"The U.S. Department of Education forbids most schools from spending its, money on D.A.R.E. because it is a total waste of time, effort and money."
She also cited some studies that showed increased drug and tobacco use of kids participating in DARE as opposed to non-participants.
Piqued their interest? I could attest to that.
The teacher wondered if we as parents made her do it.
In the book, "Samantha the American Girl" the protagonist is a young girl who shocks her school by giving a speech about the atrocities of factory labor conditions. The factory controversy she ignites ends up rallying the public in her favor. We read and discussed this story a couple years back. Kate remembers it well and defended her paper. Literature has taught her that women of courage stand up for their beliefs even if they are unpopular. I totally support that, but no, I did not make her write that. Kate's feelings are her own.
"Drugs are a huge problem in our area." the teacher contended.
And don't we know it! My husband has a job because of it. He is currently our county Drug Court Coordinator, which does have a successful track record for helping people get off drugs and stay off.
The controversy is that these papers were going to be put in a book as a sort of "thank you" to the city who currently funds our local DARE program (the city also is currently bankrupt.) Kate's opinion isn't exactly the rainbows and lollipops they were hoping for. So now the question is to publish or not to publish Kate's opinion. I left the ball in their court.
Since that conversation last week I decided to do my own research and found out basically what Kate already knew. The D.A.R.E program exists because it makes parents, teachers, and police officers FEEL like they're doing something to combat drugs, but it just doesn't work. It has cost billions of dollars over many years unsuccessful at doing what it set out to do. Sounds like a few other government programs. What's your opinion?