Deptford, N.J., is exploring alternatives to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, citing academic studies in the 1990s concluding that there was no measurable difference in drug use between students who went through the program and those who didn’t. “It’s effective to some degree, but overall, I don’t know what kind of effectiveness,” Washington Township Police Chief Chuck Billingham said of DARE, reports the Gloucester (N.J.) Times. “I think it’s a good program, but I’m not certain it’s the best.” Mayor Paul Moriarty backs a search by Billingham for alternataives. “I’ve discovered that DARE might not be as effective as people think it is,” Moriarty said. “It’s become a sacred cow — a feel-good kind of program.”
Good Intent Elementary School Principal Daniel Nardiello is an advocate of DARE. “It’s not just drug abuse resistance education,” he said. “It’s having that police officer in there representing the community.” Since starting in Los Angeles in 1983, DARE. has spread to more than 12,000 communities nationally, with 500 in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties.