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DARE Program Under Attack Again

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A new study questions the effectiveness of the DARE program. (WRAL-TV5 News)
FAYETTEVILLE — Some law enforcement agencies wouldn't "DARE" drop the program. But others have already called it quits. The most popular school-based drug education program in the United States is under attack -- again.

DARE is all about teaching children to say no to drugs. But a new report out says children are still saying yes. In the most comprehensive study of its kind, The University of Illinois report concluded DARE is a waste of $220 million in tax money. Simply put, the anti-drug program doesn't work.

Fayetteville Police Chief Ron Hansen agrees DARE is not effective. He stopped the program in his department three years ago.

"We were not comfortable with it," Hansen said. "We took a look and determined whether, for our tax dollars, it was a worthwhile program, and we determined it wasn't."

According to the six-year study that tracked students from 5th grade through high school, kids in the DARE program use the same amount of drugs as those who are not. And DARE actually has an adverse effect on drug activities in suburban communities.

Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler disagrees with the study's findings. His deputies picked up teaching fifth-graders where Fayetteville Police left off. He believes the program sends a strong message and also makes young children more at ease with law officers.

"I think it's worth every dime and cent if we can save one child's life or two, direct them out of drugs," Buttler said.

DARE officials say the program does work, but it dissipates with age. They are pushing for the program to be carried on in junior high and high schools.

The debate is not just happening in Cumberland County. Chapel Hill is one of the other local school districts thinking about dropping the DARE program.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
John Conway, Web Editor

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