A report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Volume 67, #4, with a headline, “DARE doubtful after ten years.” A ten-year follow-up study suggests that the country’s most popular drug education program is not effective. Drug Abuse Resistance Education, DARE, was developed by the Los Angeles police department and school system and has been adopted by many school districts in the United States. The curriculum is taught to elementary and junior high school students by police officers, who have taken an 80-hour course in teaching techniques and classroom management as well as the effects of drug use. In seventeen weekly sessions of lectures and question and answer sessions, students are given information about drugs, taught how to resist social pressure for drug use, instructed in decision making skills and told about healthful alternatives to drugs. The authors of the follow up study conclude that in the long run, DARE is either ineffective or no more effective than standard drug education which is less expensive and time consuming. Earlier studies had shown that DARE has no short term effect either, excerpted from the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Vol. 17, #2, pages 6-7.
Dave, some people are probably wondering how does this end up in Religion in the News, so I am going to have to tie this together. Actually, last week we had a program with the second of a two-part series with Martin and Deidre Bobgan, and we dealt with twelve-steps in AA. I wanted to get to this last week, so that’s why it is in here, but I think there’s a good point. People tend to buy in to things without checking them out. People tend to go along with programs and they either don’t do their homework or research it, they just say, oh, it must be good because it’s ongoing, it’s popular and so on. And this, we address AA and we get a lot of people out there very angry because we are looking at something or, maybe, evaluating something or we are critical of something that they believe has done a good job in their lives and it’s a worthwhile endeavor and so on. Again, my point is that some of these things seem to be good but they are not necessary. Let me add another article, very brief, with regard to DARE. Spokane, Washington joined a growing number of cities daring to just say no to DARE, the Drug Awareness Resistance Education program aimed at stopping teen drug use by promoting self esteem. And again, that’s the basis of it, one of the basis of it, DARE, offered in about 60% of school districts nation wide can cost local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, mostly to cover staff salaries and DARE paraphernalia, tee shirts, pencils, stickers and other items bearing the program’s red on black logo. The high cost isn’t the only thing motivating some cities to end DARE. Recent studies show the program just doesn’t work, said Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper. This enormously popular and enormously expensive program has been an enormous failure. Now, there are so many studies that support this— from the University of Kentucky, from the National Institute of Mental Health—just on and on. But Christians, not in every case, but many just buy into it just because they think it’s healthful and it’s going to work, but it has not proved that at all.
Tom, it reminds me of the millennial reign of Christ. It’s the final proof of the incorrigible nature of the human heart. Here is Christ in his resurrected glorified body, ruling on David’s throne in Jerusalem. We Christians are in our resurrected glorified bodies—some of us haven’t died, we have been raptured, taken to heaven and seven years later we have come back to rule with Christ. The earth blooms like a rose. It’s like the Garden of Eden once again. Satan is locked up. Everyone is made to behave. What an environment! You couldn’t ask for a better environment and certainly all the facts, all the evidence are laid out for everyone and yet, at the end of a thousand years of this paradise when Satan is loosed, it says he deceives the nations and they come like the sand of the sea to attack Jesus in Jerusalem. So, it is the final proof that just pulling yourself up by your boot straps or logic, it’s logical. I used to often use the illustration with young kids—look, if I had a glass of vitamins and a glass of poison, one in each hand and I am saying to you: “I just can’t give up this poison, I mean, it tastes so good”—instead of drinking the vitamins which would make me strong, you would think that I am some kind of an idiot. It’s not that they just don’t understand, but that, we talked about self earlier, self rules the day, self esteem. That would be the worst thing that you could use to try to teach a person to have some self control.
Because self indulgence is at the heart of this. This is why the program doesn’t work. In the early stages, that is, they deal with fifth graders and six graders and so on, but follow-up studies have shown when these kids are 18 or 19, they just blow that off, as far as smoking pot and other things and the program had no effect in their lives.
It goes back to what we were talking about before, Tom, the difference between Barabas and Paul, “I am crucified with Christ.” Jesus said we must “deny self, take up the cross, and follow him.” Self had its awful birth in the Garden of Eden; we talked about that a few programs ago. Eve was thinking how delicious the fruit will taste to me, how beautiful it looks to me, how wise it will make me, I, my, me. It was a self trip and that’s where self had its birth and self has to die. We have to get that self out of there and the Holy Spirit living within, Christ living within, so that his life becomes our life, otherwise it won’t work. All the humanistic programs simply won’t work. Now, there are a few people who will be proud enough and self centered enough that for their own selfish reasons and rationally understanding how bad it is for them, they will stay away from drugs, but not too many, most of us will succumb to the pleasure that this brings and there is only one answer. That is the new birth through Christ, our faith in him and Christ coming to live his life in us.