What Are We Doing To Our Future?

A reasoned look at the Drug War from our childrens' perspective.

We are told that our children's "formative years" are up to age 7 or 8. By this age, barring any physical or mental problems, their minds are "imprinted" with the attitudes and personality traits that they will carry throughout their lives. This imprint is so fundamental that it takes a major emotional trauma to change it.

As we raise our children through their formative years, we teach them that adults are running things, and that they can always trust an adult. Exceptions are made, of course, for strangers, and "strange people" in general, but the idea (for children) is that the adults are in charge, and you can trust them, and that you, too, will be an adult some day.

Then, along come programs like D.A.R.E. The D.A.R.E. program was started in 1987 by Los Angeles police officer Daryl Gates, and quickly endorsed by the federal government as the only "approved" drug education course in federally-funded public schools. One day a week, for six weeks, the D.A.R.E. officer would come into (mostly) 5th and 6th-grade classrooms and talk to children about the "evils of drug use", and telling children they have a "right to say no" to drugs. It was considered state-of-the-art in drug education at the time. The idea quickly took off, and now there are D.A.R.E. and D.A.R.E.-like programs in more than 250,000 schools across the country, and overseas.

Unfortunately, all the major research on the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. shows that it has no impact on the rate of drug use by children who go through DARE training. Just look on the face of it: We are told that teens are using more drugs, and using them earlier. Where did these teens come from? They came from 250,000 D.A.R.E. classrooms all over the country.

For evidence of a more scientific nature, the final edition of the largest evaluation of the DARE program concluded that the DARE program does not reduce drug use, and in at least the pot category, the DARE graduates smoked more frequently than the control. The report concluded: "The DARE program's limited effect on adolescent drug use contrasts with the program's popularity and prevalence. An important implication is that DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug education programs that kids could be receiving". [How Effective is DARE, American Journal of Public Health Sept 1994]

I believe this failure is due, at least in part, to the non-factual nature of government-sponsored drug information. Simply put, the government literature contains information that, to knowledgeable people, is clearly wrong. Not only is it wrong, it is sometimes exactly opposite the truth. A complete refutation of D.A.R.E. is beyond the scope of this article; suffice to say, the D.A.R.E. officer talking to our children is not being entirely truthful with his information about the effects of drugs on people. It's not only D.A.R.E.; our children get this information from all sides. Television, radio, most grownups, all the way up to the President Who Didn't Inhale toe the same line of dis-information.

It is this drug policy that will destroy our future by creating generations of angry young people who don't hesitate to act out against a society that, they feel, has betrayed them. Teen violence has been increasing for several years, according to various studies, and it will continue to increase to a critical level if we don't change the way we "educate" our children.

No one in their right mind would endorse drug use by our children; the idea itself is ludicrous. The problem is HOW we "teach our children" not to use drugs. As our children go through adolescence and start experiencing more of the world outside their home, their nature is to compare what they've been told with what they see. It's then that they start to discover that many things aren't exactly what they'd been led to believe.

Through the course of their adolescent and teen years, they probably have classmates who either use, or their parents use, marijuana (the most-used illegal drug in schools, according to NIDA), and see that most of them are not turning into "dope heads", or "drug addicts", or worse, as they've been told would happen. Some of their pot-smoking friends might even maintain good grades. They also see that most of their friends use alcohol (by far, the most-used drug in schools according to NIDA), many times with tragic results.

I'm sure that they wonder at the disparity between what they've been told, and what they experience. On the one hand, they get the standard government-sponsored drug "education" from the vast majority of the adults around them. On the other hand, through personal experience, they find that most of that "education" was a Big Lie. (Not to mention the wide disparity between the legal killer alcohol, and the illegal plant cannabis.)

And it's not only drugs. Our children see people all around them who are "good guys", pillars of the community, turning out to be just like anyone else, and sometimes a lot worse. They see politicians, sports figures, movie stars, the people who are running things (from their point of view), the ones who should set "an example", being uncovered as the very people they were taught were bad guys: bullies, sexual predators, and downright crooks! A famous man once said, to paraphrase, the more trust and power a citizen has, the higher the standard to which he must be held. This holds true from the fast-food clerk all the way up to the President.

What would be a normal teen's reaction to finding that they cannot trust the adults around them--those same adults that they were trained, since birth, to respect and trust? We're seeing that reaction today: increased teen violence, a general lack of respect for authority, increased (and earlier) teen drug use; these are all outward expressions of rebellion, because of a sense of betrayal and anger at a system that, they have come to believe, was never about "protecting the children" in the first place.

We, as parents and citizens, must STOP this purveyance of The Big Lie! Stop allowing our government to LIE to our children, and to its citizens, in the name of protecting us from the "scourge of drug addiction". You can't educate a population with lies; the best you can do is control them, and only then for a short while. And may God help the government as the citizens find out...


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