truth_dare - Paresh Agarwal STS.062 Truth or DARE Sex and...

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Paresh Agarwal STS.062 May 18, 2006 Truth or DARE? Sex and drugs are perhaps the two most taboo subjects in modern American society. Our government has chosen to deal with these two subjects in similar ways: teach kids to stay away from them as long as possible, even though most will end up having sex and doing drugs frequently. Abstinence-only programs designed to modify adolescent behavior with regards to both of them do not seem to work very well. A controversy is currently raging over abstinence- only sex education programs, but studies seem to have settled the fact that they are ineffective. 1 The largest problem, though, is that in addition to being ineffective, abstinence-only programs endanger their students by leaving them unprepared for and unable to safely handle the inevitable. This is true not only for sex education, but for drug education as well, such as that provided by Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE). The nation’s largest anti-drug program, DARE presents drug users as people with self-esteem problems and teaches adolescents that they should “just say no” to drugs, exaggerates the dangers of drugs by associating their users with gangs and violence, and provides its students with no information on how to use drugs casually while avoiding abuse, as many of them will try to do—again, just like its sex-education counterpart, failing miserably to produce any positive results. DARE is ineffective because it gives its students messages that conflict with reality—all non-prescription drugs should be avoided, and any amount of drug use is irresponsible—and they soon realize this and discount the lessons of the entire program. DARE continues to receive funding because of its popularity among parents and police officers—it has become just another arm of the misguided war on drugs. 1
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Founded in 1983 by Daryl Gates, then chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, DARE quickly soared in popularity and spread throughout the country. Today, the program is implemented internationally—36 million students in 43 countries participate in it annually. 2 The program employs local police officers, who give elementary, middle, and high school students seventeen weekly one-hour lessons on the dangers of drugs and how to say “no” to drugs, gangs, and violence—not how to deal responsibly with such things, but how to avoid them entirely. The program is incredibly popular. Its presence in 80% of the nation’s school districts is bolstered by parents’ high approval ratings: a survey of participating schools in Illinois showed that 94.5% of parents recommend the program based on their children’s responses to it, and the vast majority of schoolteachers and principals believe it achieves its goal of preventing adolescent drug use. 3
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truth_dare - Paresh Agarwal STS.062 Truth or DARE Sex and...

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