Oakland, California - After spending more than $600,000 per year without any significant change in student drug use, the City of Oakland voted unanimously July 25 to say "no" to D.A.R.E. The City and Police Department agreed at a Public Safety Committee meeting to defund the controversial program and put its police officers back on the streets. The program is opposed by community groups across America for its cost, its secrecy, its inaccuracies, and reports of increased drug use among students who participate. Before it could be reconsidered, D.A.R.E. would have to compete for funds with other curricula that its critics say are more effective.

Oakland is the largest community to withdraw from the D.A.R.E. program to date. A community coalition of family groups, researchers and teachers spoke at the hearing in support of the change. UC Berkeley professor Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., presented and reviewed a thick folio of studies and reports documenting the ineffectiveness of the program. D.A.R.E. opponents favor making drug education part of a credible health curriculum designed to protect young people from abusing hard drugs.

"D.A.R.E.'s self-promotion is a free giveaway of bumper stickers, tee shirts, diplomas, etc.. That creates a strong emotional attachment to this failed program," said Family Council on Drug Awareness director Chris Conrad. "All we have available to counter it are scientific facts and our personal commitment to protect children. In this case, that was enough. The bottom line is that D.A.R.E. is an expensive program that seems to be making the situation worse." There are also national reports of police misuse of program funds, and of officers teaching children to spy on their families and act as police informants.

"A lot of people are uncomfortable with this situation, but it is not easy to stand up against a program that hands out tax breaks to businesses and candy to kids to buy their affection and support. The message this action sends out to concerned parents, teachers and school boards is this: It can be done. Gather the facts on D.A.R.E., bring your neighbors to the decision makers and voice your concerns. In Oakland, we found that the community needs its money to go to programs that really work, and the police department needs its officers back on the street fighting crime. Those were points that everyone could agree on."

Conrad explained that the program's problems are inherent to its approach. Even the name, D.A.R.E., encourages risk-taking behavior. It reinforces dangerous attitudes by telling kids that if they try one drug they will go on to others, rather than help them draw the line. The program is based on scare tactics, peer pressure, assertiveness training, social stigmas, and other powerful impulses that are easy to trigger but impossible to control. "Once a kid learns to 'just say no,' it is just as easy to say no to D.A.R.E. as it is to say no to drugs," Conrad said. "Kids don't need flashy stickers and slogans. They need qualified guidance." From: FCDA, Family Council on Drug Awareness PO Box 1716, El Cerrito, CA 94530 510-215-8326 * 213-969-1607

Contact: Chris Conrad Day phone: 510-215-8326