Letters to the Editor

D.A.R.E. is worth keeping on Mercer Island

Last week’s Mercer Island Reporter had an article about doing away with D.A.R.E. I’m not sure what your position is on this program, but I strongly urge you to continue support of D.A.R.E. by filling the D.A.R.E. officer position. The article, in particular, and the concept of doing away with D.A.R.E. in general, are flawed for several reasons.

The article quoted “statistics” concerning alcohol use among high school seniors. Basically, the point was that “if 50 percent of high school seniors have had a drink in the last 30 days, D.A.R.E. isn’t working.” As any scientist will tell you, this conclusion is flawed because we don’t know the percentage of those who would have had a drink (or, worse, would’ve been dead by now, or be on drugs or be caught drinking and driving, etc.) if D.A.R.E. had not been in place. Bottom line, we can’t conclude that D.A.R.E. doesn’t work based on statistics without a control.

So we’re left with our “gut” ... with empirical information and our own experiences. I can tell you personally that I believe DARE works. I have 3 children, ages 19, 17 and 9. The older ones went through DARE and it made a difference in their lives (one also worked as a DARE mentor). Both have made good choices concerning drug, alcohol and cigarette use. My 17 year old, upon reading the Reporter article, remarked “That (getting rid of DARE) is ridiculous ... when I was younger and kids my age used to tell me drugs or cigarettes were okay, DARE helped me know that they were not and WHY they were not.” In a perfect world we parents could take the place of DARE and I’d like to think most of us do a good job at this (“Parents ... the anti-drug”). But, the reality is that drug, alcohol and cigarette use are pervasive in our society ... we need EVERY tool we can muster to fight this huge problem. DARE has been a big part of that fight for my two older children and I urge you to continue it for my youngest. If improvements are needed, let’s make them ... but if we cancel the program we will regret it.

Thank you.

Bob Stoney

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