“D.A.R.E. is, I think, as I indicated, the best remembered anti-drug program today. In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.” That’s what Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a conference for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education on Tuesday.
D.A.R.E. probably is the best remembered pro-drug war school campaign in the the nation’s history, but what Sessions is discounting is that what it’s best remembered for is as a joke. At this point, more D.A.R.E. shirts have probably been worn ironically than in serious. What stoner hasn’t either seen someone smoking a joint in that shirt or been that person by now?
It’s not just that it’s funny to defy an anti-drug program. It’s that something about the organization makes it seem kind of clownish and ineffective, and an easy target for mockery. Maybe it’s that stupid lion mascot that looks like a ripoff of Tony the Tiger and Yogi the Bear at the same time.
Or maybe it’s the fact that a congressional committee found that their program was useless. “D.A.R.E. does not work to reduce substance use,” reads a 1998 report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. “The program’s content, teaching methods, and use of uniformed police officers rather than teachers might each explain its weak evaluations.”
The report went on to say that, “No scientific evidence suggests that the D.A.R.E. core curriculum as originally designed or revised in 1993, will reduce substance use in the absence of continued instruction more focused on social competency development.”
Oh yeah. And there was also the time that the organization realized their program was actually making kids more interested in drugs, as opposed to deterring them. A 2012 memo from the group advises its instructors that, “Research has found that teaching children about drugs with which they have never heard of or have no real life understanding may stimulate their interest or curiosity about the substance.”
One more, just for fun. Two years ago the D.A.R.E. website posted an article from Topekas News on the dangers of marijuana. The only problem was that Topekas News was an Onion-esque satirical news site, the article D.A.R.E. reposted was a joke, and an organization that’s supposed to be trusted for educational purposes had stuff like this written on its official website: “Marijuana. It is one of the most dangerous drugs on Earth… It is sad that in a country as developed as America, such third world drugs such as marijuana are allowed to exist.”
Even with all that said, Attorney General Sessions is still pushing for the program’s resurgence. “We know it worked before and we can make it work again,” he said at Tuesday’s conference. “We need you. “We need D.A.R.E. to prevent them from finding new victims. We need your strong leadership to deny them new customers.”
Well, the guy also perjured himself in front of the entire nation and is a known racist, so I guess it’s not the worst thing he’s ever done.