JEFFERSON-How effective is the DARE program in preventing children from using drugs today and as adults?
The answer to that question depends on who you ask.
If you ask Sheriff Terry Buchanan, he would likely fully endorse the program as a successful tool in helping young people abstain from drugs and alcohol. He wants to re-implement the program in Ashe County Schools.
The Ashe County School System doesn’t agree with his viewpoint, he said.
When he approached the Ashe County School Board about implementing the program, he said he received a “stand-off” response from board members.
“I got feedback that DARE was not effective in the past,” said Buchanan. “Before implementing again, there needs to be a clear understanding of what it will do for the community.”
He made these comments during Monday’s Ashe County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Buchanan said the county’s drug problem needs to be addressed and that prevention is key to curbing that rate.
“Drugs are an epidemic in this nation and we have a problem in this county, as well,” Buchanan said to commissioners. “We have to educate our children first. My own kids went through DARE and that kept them off drugs their entire life. The DARE program is a huge effort to get back in the school system. I would encourage parents to reach out to school board.”
Results and opinions of the DARE program’s effectiveness vary nationally.
A five-year long investigation by Frontline and PBS focused on longitudinal evaluations of the program.
“No significant differences were observed between intervention and comparison schools with respect to cigarette, alcohol, or marijuana use during the 7th grade, approximately one year after completion of the program, or over the full five-year measurement interval. Significant intervention effects in the hypothesized direction were observed during the 7th grade for measures of students’ general and specific attitudes toward drugs, the capability to resist peer pressure, and estimated level of drug use by peers. Over the full measurement interval, however, average trajectories of change for these outcomes were similar in the intervention and comparison conditions,” the PBS report concluded.
In order to re-implement the program, Buchanan said the department would also have to designate a full-time deputy to the position for the purpose of DARE education.
The sheriff’s ideas for new initiatives didn’t stop with drug prevention.
Buchanan also told county commissioners that his office wanted to start a program that entails sending out a letter congratulating every student on the A/B Honor roll. The letter would be included within the student’s report card.
“Most children from third to eighth grade may never get a family member say ‘Great job excel, excel, excel!’ We want to do that.”
He said he was denied this request.
“This isn’t a political matter for me, but as a sheriff I want to do things right,” said Buchanan. “Everyone knows I’m not a political person.”
Ashe County Schools didn’t return a message seeking comment for this story.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Sheriff Terry Buchanan said he received a stand-off response from the Ashe County School System
when he inquired about re-implementing the DARE program.