D.A.R.E. Was a Bigger Failure Than Most People Realized

D.A.R.E. Was a Bigger Failure Than Most People Realized

[MUSIC PLAYING] The ’80s and ’90s
were a hodgepodge of anti-drug nerds trying to
ruin our cool lives by telling us drugs weren’t copacetic. (SINGING ON VIDEO)
Don’t do drugs. Eggs on frying pans. (ON VIDEO) This is
your brain on drugs. Learning it from your dad. (ON VIDEO) I learned
it by watching you. And the granddaddy of them all– (ON VIDEO) People will tell
you that drugs are cool and that everybody
is doing them. But you know what? You’re wrong. D.A.R.E. Today
we’re learning how the D.A.R.E.
Campaign was a bigger failure than you realized. But before we get started,
make sure you subscribe to the Weird History Channel. All right, kids, let’s take a
non-hallucinogenic trip back to the 80s. [MUSIC PLAYING] Some of the earliest studies
of D.A.R.E.’s effectiveness exposed D.A.R.E. as being
a pretty useless program for keeping teenagers
off of drugs and alcohol. It seemed D.A.R.E.’s zero-chill
educational approach to keeping these curious hormonal
rebellious little hooligans off of drugs was not working. And in fact, was having the
opposite intended effect. Turns out, teenagers
are less of a learn by riveting PowerPoint
presentation and more of a do it and see if we
die kind of learners. They might have been taught
to say, “Just Say No,” but they were way more
likely to say, ah, yes, to a bag full of those items
they learned about in school if they completed the D.A.R.E.
Program then those who didn’t. If only D.A.R.E. Had listened
to its dad, who told them this would happen. (ON VIDEO) Who taught
you how to do this stuff? S.M.A.R.T., the program that
inspired and birthed D.A.R.E., also failed in its
earlier days, suffering from the same arrogant idea
that students would blindly listen to an authority, having
never seen a John Hughes film or seemingly met a teenager. But when S.M.A.R.T. reached
out to D.A.R.E. to inform them of the changes made to better
the program by making it work, D.A.R.E. resisted. It is, after all, right
there in its name. The most damning
study was commissioned by a National
Institute of Justice and conducted by the Research
Triangle Institute, that said the program was
occupying space and hoarding funding from other programs
that actually had value and, you know, worked. The NIJ never
published the findings that D.A.R.E. was a dud, so the
charade continued in schools across the nation. Meanwhile, our
fragile youths were being corrupted by
the temptation created by the very thing
meant to keep them on the straight and narrow,
the temptation of knowledge. [MUSIC PLAYING] As mentioned, D.A.R.E. was so
bad at keeping teens drug free, it accidentally turned them into
little Jim Morrison’s, thanks to a fun social
psychology phenomenon known as The Boomerang Effect. Basically, by telling somebody
they shouldn’t do something because they might die, it makes
the person morbidly curious to test that theory. Cheating death, sounds fun. Couple that with
teenagers very loose grasp on how fragile
life is, and well, you’re going to tempt dumb kid
to do some experimenting. D.A.R.E. might have been
saying, “Doing lines of cocaine can cause your heart
to stop beating,” but all those rebellious teens
heard was, that’ll show dad. (ON VIDEO) Who taught
you how to do this stuff? They did have a lion
mascot named Daren, and pretty sure
S.M.A.R.T. didn’t. So, you know, they
knew what kids liked. [MUSIC PLAYING] Despite mountains of
overwhelming evidence, the general public stood
by the D.A.R.E. Program throughout the ’90s. Parents loved D.A.R.E.. It was nice. It had good intentions. There were police involved. It got to talk to
your kids about drugs so you didn’t have to. There was a little mascot. What’s not to love? Who cares if it was a giant
waste of time and money? D.A.R.E. settled into
their impeccable reputation by having the audacity to
say, “Knocking D.A.R.E. is like kicking your mother or
saying that apple pie doesn’t taste good.” Ignoring that some
apple pie is nasty and it might not
taste good, and look, some mothers might
need to be kicked. What if your mom
wasn’t moving and you needed to see if she was alive? A little kick
might be all that’s standing between her and death. And now, since everything is
bad and facts are alternative, now there’s a push to bring
D.A.R.E. back to schools. Oh, did you think
this story was not going to involve Jeff Sessions? Because this story definitely
involves Jeff Sessions. Former Attorney General and
ex-Keebler elf, Jeff Sessions, said in 2017 that, despite
research to the contrary, he still believed
D.A.R.E. worked. Why? Well, because he just did. That’s enough to spend money
on things that, objectively, don’t work, right? I mean, case in point, the wall. At least D.A.R.E.
was cheap, right? Oh, no. D.A.R.E. cost a ton of money. Daren the Lion does not
work for free, guys. There was a lot of demand
for meddling lion mascots who didn’t do drugs and
demanded the same life standards for everyone in the ’90s. What started local
to Los Angeles, soon spread to an estimated
75% of the country. And was so vastly supported
that local state and federal governments gave the program
somewhere between $200 million to $2 billion, just
in the year 2003. [CHA-CHING] Well after several studies
proved it ineffective. Think about that. $2 billion to fund a
program that fundamentally did not work. Only after several
years worth of research that could no longer be ignored
and a detailed financial audit did the government
stop hemorrhaging money into the program. [MUSIC PLAYING] The idea behind the original
D.A.R.E. curriculum was simple. Tell kids about the devastating
consequences of cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal
drugs and they’ll be less likely to use them. Foolproof, right? In theory, it should work. In practice, it did not. But lazy teachers who didn’t
want to come up with a better idea, and police
officers who just needed to show they
were trying, were convinced that education
was their best tool when it came to prevention,
without realizing that such a direct approach
may not work on young children. Current D.A.R.E.
President Frank Peguerios once said, “Everyone believed
that if you just told students how harmful these substances
and behaviors were they’d stay away from them.” Unfortunately,
young kids weren’t as receptive to the education
as a prevention approach. School is boring. Learning is hard. Everybody just wants
to go home, watch TV and eat snacks, and not
hear about lung cancer when you’re 12 years old. Despite this, the
program continued. It was, after all, the ’80s. And let me tell you, people
hated drugs in the ’80s. (ON VIDEO) You know getting
into drugs and being high is a real stupid thing to do. [MUSIC PLAYING] Every decade needs
a scary boogie man to rally behind and blame all
of our deep-rooted societal problems on. And in the ’80s,
and into the ’90s, the blanket term, drugs,
was the 9/11 of the times. And who was steering this
illegal caravan of bad hombres? A sweet little old lady by
the name of Nancy Reagan. In the early 1980s,
America’s grandma had had it with
all of these drugs and demanded the youths
of America, “Just Say No.” First Lady Nancy went
from school to school, telling children to
“Just Say No” to all of these drugs with a t-shirt. Once she’d absorbed
enough child’s fear to energize herself, Nancy would
swing into the occasional rehab center to gather
horrible tales of people. She’d then share
these horror stories with all of America,
which in turn made the whole country say, “Hell
no!” to people who said, “Hell yes!” to drugs. (ON VIDEO) Today, there’s a
drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in this country and no
one is safe from it. And the plan worked, a
boogie man was created. The Reagan Administration’s
pulverizing advocacy for anti-drug causes
resulted in 64% of Americans in 1985 believing drugs were the
number one issue in the nation. Sorry, AIDS. (ON VIDEO) So, won’t you join
us in this great new national crusade. Nancy’s PR campaign worked, and
America was all in on D.A.R.E.. Yes, teach our kids the perils
of drug addiction, Daren. Give the people what they want. But like the cordless phones,
beepers, and “The Rachel”, D.A.R.E. couldn’t make it past
the ’90s, as it became harder to ignore the evidence that
the program was deeply flawed and an abject failure. Move over Drug Abuse
Resistance Education, and make way for the snazzy new
program with a very unfortunate name, “keepin’ it REAL.” The program, “keepin’ it REAL”
replaced D.A.R.E. in 2009 in middle schools, and
eventually expanded to elementary schools in 2013. Choosing to forgo the 45-minute
dreary lecture that children normally enjoy,
“keepin’ it REAL” opts for a more
interactive model that teachers and
D.A.R.E. officers noted children didn’t hate. Student engagement
was markedly higher. Without a regular
anti-drug program, it’s a cool anti-drug program. [MUSIC PLAYING] You could tell a surly
teen to “Just Say No” until you’re blue in the
face and pat yourself on the back for all the good
work that you did that day. But in the real life scenario
that this same teen is offered a fistful of bud,
the odds are pretty high they panic and say,
OK, sure, and just take some of the devil’s cabbage. “keepin it REAL” arms teens
with more tools in their belt by approaching potential
drug solicitations in more realistic terms. The core of the program is in
the acronym, Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave. REAL proposes, at
first offering, an explanation for why they
don’t want to do something. Or if possible, attempt
to avoid the issue. I see Billy is offering
meth to my classmates. I think I’ll take a
different route home and maybe avoid
Billy for the day. And finally, if that doesn’t
work, they can leave. Oh, right, I don’t
have to do meth. I have a body autonomy and I
can just leave and go somewhere where there is no meth. The great thing
about this program is it’s applicable to
so many other scenarios in these young kids’ lives. The goal of “keepin’ it
REAL” is to help kids get out of any situation that makes
them uncomfortable, almost as if teenage drug use is a
symptom of being a complicated, growing, changing
person trying to fit into a society of insecure,
relentlessly cool teenagers, and not the cause of
all their problems. And you know the best thing
about “keepin’ it REAL?” It actually works. [MUSIC PLAYING] The results so far have been
overwhelmingly positive, according to a report from
the Scientific American that concluded, students who
completed “keepin’ it REAL” indicated they use
drugs and alcohol less than those in the
control group that did not. The report claims
the skills and ideas taught by “keepin’
it REAL” are more likely to stick with students
and reduce substance abuse at a rate that was 72% higher
than the control group. The old boring snooze
fest of D.A.R.E. pasts have been replaced with
student interaction and group work, teaching them various
ways to “Just Say No” to drugs. According to Sergeant
Christine Rapp of Indiana, a D.A.R.E. Officer for 16 years,
“The interaction and group work are awesome because we
learn by doing much more than by hearing.” “When they learn the ways
to say no to friends, they absolutely love getting
up in front of the class and acting those out.” The world doesn’t need anymore
drug addicts or alcoholics. (SINGING ON VIDEO)
Don’t do drugs. But what they definitely do
need are more improv troops. Did D.A.R.E. keep you away from
drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes? Let us know in the
comments below. And while you’re at it, check
out some of these other videos from our Weird History.


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    I must be one of the only people who went through DARE and never touched any drugs or alcohol. Maybe that was due in part to seeing at home how hardcore drugs destroy family members… #straightedge

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    Um…I still have a cordless phone and just got “the Rachel” soooo maybe somethings are slightly more timeless than dare?

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    nic sharp

    Ive been looking for years for that guy just standing on street corners offering free samples they always told us about, im paying cash all the time. 😠

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    Claire Benson

    We had a DARE graduation where they gave us all milkshakes and this one girl growled like a dragon so loudly that the whole class was startled. That's my main memory of DARE.

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    yeah, everyone who thought educating kids about the potential consequences of drug use was a good idea was just lazy and stupid because Nancy Reagan didn't really care about kids using drugs, she just didn't want to address the AIDS issue.
    Or maybe,..just maybe,.. people thought teaching kids about the potential dangers of drug use would prevent tragic overdose deaths.
    I don't know, I guess all Republicans are evil so they just wanted kids AND gays to die because conservative old people have no souls.

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    Neon Scars

    I went through Dare, I have since smoked, drank, and done all manner of drugs. It just made me curious, like I know drugs are bad but if you’re hear to tell me again after I’ve always heard it… why are people doing them. Drugs did not disappoint. 😂

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    A Hood

    Two officers I had to learn from were complete jerks. They’d yell and bark at us for an hour to try and scare us about getting arrested. I ended up hating them more than drugs after it was over.

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    Delaney Dahl

    I came here looking for the Dare music video from Gorillaz. But hey, I’m not mad because at least I learned something 😂

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    H Whatever

    The only reason anyone listened in my D.A.R.E. class was because the officer who taught us got half his hand shot off earlier in his career & we all thought he was cool

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    Jasmine Bridgett

    DARE was a hit and miss with teenagers lol at end peer pressure and maturity was in the balance for most people at end people choose there path for rest of use DARE make us stay away from drugs because now these days people look like the walking dead when they do drugs .

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    I've been offered drugs before and here is roughly how it went. There was a pre context but I'll just put in the important bit.
    "I have some (list of drugs), do you want to buy any?"
    "uh no thank you I'm fine."
    "okay, see you later."

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    Dee Sargent

    DARE: Do you know what LSD is?
    Me: no
    DARE: well here's a coloring book to explain it.
    Me: wait a minute the coloring book explains hallucinations, this sounds awesome!
    DARE: well they're not!

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    The kid who got the MVP of our Dare class when I was a kid ended up doing all the drugs when we got older. And our Dare officer ended up being a corrupt cop who got fired for doing illegal stuff.

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    Artemis Fox

    I actually had both D.A.R.E. and Keeping it REAL in Elementary school and I can say the latter was way more effective in getting me to not do (most) drugs

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    Chrystopher Lyle

    Well, I grew up with Dare. And I experimented with drugs for awhile. Never did anything stupid like Heroin, meth, or crack. But I smoked hella weed, and experienced LSD, mushrooms, and cocaine very rarely. So yeah, dare failed hard

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    Mark Meadows

    I clearly remember them in school. They had the audacity to ask if family members did drugs and their names. I thought it was funny as my whole family sparked up the devils lettuce. I would never consider getting my family in trouble. They even brought drugs in to class to show us what they looked at. They let us smell weed too. Needless to say their weed smelled like Babbage.

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    I was in 4th grade, I left the class thinking "Why are drugs so bad? Cigarettes do the same thing, but people are fine with those."

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    4 Carmybel

    I was a bigger influence on my son than D.A.R.E. was and he told me that the reason he never used drugs was because of my experiences with drugs. I happy to say that 35 years later I’m still drug free!

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    Alex Steiner

    My dare officer in middle school like 2010 roughly told us if someone offers us bath salts they arent talking about the kind you bathe in. Problem being we were 10 and didnt know what either kind was. Its really dumb they teach this stuff to children who know nothing about it

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    I'm not American. I had never heard of DARE before. But programs like this exist all over the world, and for years, I've had this personal hypothesis as to why programs like this don't tend to work:
    By age 12, most kids have realized that many adults who try to teach them about morals (parents, teachers, whatever) are either:
    – hypocrites,
    – flat out lying,
    – propagating conveniently selective half-truths, or

    – full of shit.
    Why should any teen assume that this time is different?

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    Jessica C

    Lazy teachers? Wtf? Teachers have no control over programs we are handed and told to teach. The ones who have never been in the classroom are often the ones telling us what to teach.

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    It's a simple fact that if you keep telling someone to do or to not do something, eventually they'll grow to resent you, and once they resent you, well.. they wanna spite you. So good job DARE for being absolutely hateable

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    I don't know how influential DARE was for me, but I know my mom used to tell me that pot made your hair and face greasy, so I REFUSED to smoke it all throughout high school because I didn't want either of those things lmao.

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    Angel Leon

    The only reason why me and friends were trying to graduate dare because they took us to a field trip to the fair and then we did drugs 😂😂

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    We had a D.A.R.E. officer talk to my class once and, inevitably, he asked us, "What do you say if someone offers you drugs?" About a third of the class replied, "Yeah, how much?"

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    Grant Watson

    Perceive an image of care and effort in addressing a problem and open revenue coffers to indiscriminate and practically untraceable pillage? I'd say D.A.R.E was a massive success actually.

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    john smith

    In the 90’s my friends and I would go put on our D.A.R.E shirts & get high together. Yes it seems stupid now , but we felt like Nancy Reagan was a joke.

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    Amy Rosenthal

    I remember doing a DARE concert in elementary school (early 2000's) and honestly thinking back im sure 80% of our parents were secretly laughing their asses off in the crowd. Most people do drugs whether it's alcohal, weed, prescription drugs, etc.

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    elliot anico

    The hypocrisy about all this is the fact that government is in bed with the Pharmaceutical companies. We have an epidemic of opioid in Florida and across the country. Thank you government and thank you Big Pharma.

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    Kenneth Besig

    The so called war on drugs has been lost for decades, exactly like the way Prohibition failed miserably in the 1920's and 1930's, all it does is criminalize people for engaging in a nonviolent personal choice. The nation would be better served if these drugs were legalized and taxed, and the tax money used for rehabilitation. All the present laws do is make drug cartels even richer, destroys young live with a punitive legal system, and make every one into scofflaws regarding even non drug laws. We might just as well surrender and admit we lost the war on drugs decades ago.

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    Kat Rose

    I went to a DARE event thing that my friend’s school was hosting I think. It was just a big stage and a huge crowd of miserable elementary school kids and middle schoolers. There was no food or drink and it was close to 90 degrees out and I just remember everyone else getting a shirt and I didn’t so I was sad. Also, the song thing that they forced us to learn is always going to be engrained in my head.

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    The Modern Heathen

    All I remember from dare in the fifth grade when I was doing it was free pizza and being forced to watch some stupid cartoon with that damn lion. And a free shirt. And a stupid song we had to memorize and then saying. Yeah, F dare

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    Mario Rivera

    D I won't do drugs. A I won't have an attitude. R I will respect myself. E I will educate you now. Lol who remembers that theme song.

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    I was a weird kid growing up, I believed DARE until I was about 18 I used to condemn drugs and those who used it, although I was less harsh of alcohol and cigarettes seeing as they were legal I had no problem even though I hate my mom smoking and all my family drinks occasionally, now I’m more sympathetic to weed, I’ve become very progressive on things although I personally don’t drink, smoke, and or do any vice.

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    I remember smoking a lot of pot while wearing a D.A.R.E. graduate t-shirt that I bought from an op-shop. The campy presentation of the whole organisation lent itself really well to post-90s post-ironic stoner culture. All the branding and marketing of D.A.R.E. just became a trope of the dweeby, fearful downtalking that triggers curiosity and encourages kids to rebel more than it encourages them to conform to the intended message. That sharpened pencil graphic is the perfect case in point.

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    Robert Syrett

    I remember D.A.R.E. and can say 100% that it pushed me to at least try marijuana. The thing is you could tell, even as a second grader, that this was some bullshit. They lumped cigarettes in with illegal drugs during the presentation and tried to use social pressure by dividing us into people who would smoke when they grew up and those that didn't ("stand in this circle or that circle"), basically traumatizing children who had smoker parents. I'm not saying smoking is in any way good, but it was clear that something other truth was being given to us. When I told my big brother (he was 16 I was 7) about what had happened in class he whipped out the bong and initiated me into the world of weed. 1987 was a weird time to be alive.

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    i used to go to a school in Utah where the program
    was introduced to our class…i had no idea wth was going on until i watch this video

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    Lowly Worm

    We still had DARE at my school… I have a vivid memory of them passing a jar of tar that had been extracted from a smoker’s lungs around… scarred me for life. Not that I was gonna smoke anyways but GEEZ

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    Alexandria Ingram

    Before DARE, I didn't know about drugs. After DARE, I knew about every drug and how they can effect you so I know which ones were better to bring to the party! 😀

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    Barry Baz

    I don't know what DARE is ,, was going to watch but after 2 min it was turning me to take Drugs .
    I,m guessing that this video won,t be a help. . Going back to read the presidents war service history to give a better feeling..

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    Yes the DARE program kept me from doing drugs, and I still don’t do drugs to this day thanks to DARE!!! 😎😎👍

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    Jessica Ferry

    I went through DARE and was terrified of all "drugs" until I met people with actual experiences. I still hate opioids and nicotine and alcohol, but I'm pretty okay with most recreational drugs. Not all drugs are the same, and I feel that they really failed with not teaching us that.

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    Deana Rupe

    No it did not. Dare did exactly the opposite. When we first learned to get high we laughed at the dare people. We laugued at how phony it was. Being kids we were able to see right threw their program.

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    The Misunderstood Assassin

    I first learned that D.A.R.E. was a failure while watching an episode of Adam Ruins Everything. I'm so glad that I didn't have to deal with that mess as a kid.

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    Alika Kianga

    There's a lesson in this. Teach kids the truth. Drop the overblown statistics and fear-mongering, because it will just make kids want to prove they're not stupid, and they're not cowards. The reality of drugs is dark enough. I had two anti-drug programs growing up. DARE taught me that angel dust is a fun white powder that turns your world into a trippy cartoon/video game kind of a thing. HUGS taught me what happens to kids, psychologically, when they grow up with alcoholic parents. DARE made me feel cool to like drugs because I was "a rebel" – too smart, fearless, and adventurous to be controlled by adults. HUGS made me feel pity for people who took drugs, and the people around them who suffered because of it. Which immediately makes drugs an uncool thing, because who wants to be pitied?

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    Jessie Barry

    I just remember how much DARE hatted marijuana. But they never really explained why it is one of the worst. After DARE I discovered it Turns out marijuana it is better for you then alcohol omg. Thanks a lot government.

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    Other than interactive classes vs. lectures, I don’t see much difference between DARE and Keeping it real.

    What kept me from drugs and alcohol was following Jesus Christ and seeing what destitute failures my family became from drugs and alcohol.

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    Nope, I’m a hot, hot mess.

    But in all seriousness, I remember when D.A.R.E was in school and I surprisingly never HAD to attend the classes. I noticed some kids in school did, and I never knew if it was something they volunteered to do or if it was mandatory for them to do. It was honestly mind boggling. We definitely would get like a speaker who represented the program come in and talk to us in the classroom and maybe show a video, but that was about it.

    I hadn’t even known that there was a full fledged class for it until I saw those students wearing the shirts and talking about how they’d graduated. 🤷🏽‍♀️ However, I’m not surprised it didn’t work. It was something that I’d hear other kids gripe about more than finding it as something fun to do and even when we’d have a guest speaker, it wasn’t something totally fun. We were happy to not have to work, but that was about it.

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    It’s funny that this channel mocks police for “trying” and teachers as being “lazy”… yet no mention of where good ol’ mom & dad’s responsibility.

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    themonsteraddict MMXVI

    Lmao. DARE never explained that when i was to get crippling depression as a teenager drugs would numb the pain make me feel good about myself. They also never explained the scenario in which i would begin to go to parties with my buddies and eventually end up in unknown bathrooms, snorting mysterious powders off toilet seats while shotgunning a Four Loko.

    Man…freshman year was awesome.

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    The C.I.A.

    Education is the solution, but trying to tell people what to do is the problem. If they really want people to stop doing drugs, they need to legalize them all, and education people about them without trying to control them. People will die, a lot for a while probably, but eventually the people will turn away from drugs. It's really nobodies business to tell anyone not to do drugs anyways, people need to fuck off and worry about themselves. If your kids start doing drugs, tough luck, you're only going to make it worse if you try to control them. Tell them the truth about drugs, educate them and don't just try to scare them, be honest, and be open for them, let them make their choices. They're going to do it either way, you can't control people.

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    Moises Valadez

    Meanwhile in the Philippines their hating Rodrigo Duerte for the killings of thousands of drug addicts & dealers!

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