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Study: D.A.R.E. Plus, parents make difference

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CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) -- The most widely used anti-drug education program in U.S. schools shows little success but an enhancement involving teachers and students appears to be effective at least with boys, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota said they reached the conclusion after looking at the police-taught Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program and comparing it to "D.A.R.E. Plus" programs, among seventh graders in 24 schools in 1999 and 2000.

One third of the schools used the D.A.R.E. curriculum, a third used D.A.R.E. Plus, and the other eight did not have drug prevention programs. In all 6,237 students were involved in the study.

In the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the researchers said they found no significant differences between D.A.R.E. only students and those who had no program at all in terms of tobacco, alcohol or marijuana use or violence for both boys and girls later on.

But among boys, those in the D.A.R.E. Plus programs were less likely than those who received no training to show increases in alcohol or drug use, it said. The students were quizzed on their habits at the end of seventh grade and then a year later.

The D.A.R.E. Plus program includes a four-session classroom-based, peer-led parental involvement program carried out by specially trained teachers once a week focusing on influences and skills related to peers, social groups, media and role models.

Some components of the program are completed by the students with their parents at home, and students also take part in a theater production illustrating various drug resistance concepts.

The basic D.A.R.E. program, the most widely used drug use prevention program in the United States, involves 10 sessions in school taught by a police officer.

Among girls, those in the D.A.R.E. Plus schools were less likely to report increases in ever having been drunk compared to girls in schools where only D.A.R.E. was offered, the study said.

"In summary, the D.A.R.E. Plus Project demonstrated that a multicomponent intervention significantly improved the D.A.R.E. middle and junior high school D.A.R.E. curriculum and became an effective intervention for reducing increases in alcohol, tobacco, and multigrid use and victimization among adolescent boys," the study said.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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