Attorney General Jeff Sessions. is looking to bring back DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the anti-drug program that was started by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983 and a mainstay in schools until the late ’90s. But the program, full of neat-o catchphrases and logo-stamped t-shirts, is widely seen as ineffective.
Sessions praised the program’s cultural impact at a recent appearance at a DARE training conference in Texas. “DARE is, I think, as I indicated, the best remembered anti-drug program today,” Sessions said. “We know it worked before and we can make it work again.”
Sessions may be right about DARE’s notoriety, but that has more to do with the cool merch than preventing teen substance abuse. The program is almost universally regarded as completely ineffective. In a piece from 2014, The Scientific American explains why the DARE program simply “does little or nothing to combat substance use in youth“. They point out several reasons, the most pressing of which is that, compared to other more effective programs, the program is rather brief and does not really provide actionable ways for kids to refuse dangerous substances. While that article points to a few positive components of the program, Priceonomics says that the program has been rather ineffective from the start.
DARE has faced massive budget cuts over the last few years and has mostly faded into oblivion, having little to no presence in most schools. But now, in order to avoid a future where the devil’s tobacco is sold at every corner, Sessions is looking to the past for help. The Attorney General has been eager to revive the American government War on Drugs —despite it being a massive failure – and getting a clear anti-drug message back into schools seems to be a necessary step to doing that, even if the message does not actually stop anyone from doing drugs.