Why D.A.R.E.

The Most Comprehensive Drug Prevention Curricula in the World

D.A.R.E. Education Programs

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program is the most comprehensive drug prevention curricula in the world taught in thousands of schools throughout America’s 50 states and its territories, as well as in 50+ other countries reaching more than 1.5 million students annually.

D.A.R.E. Education Program Endorsements & Support

D.A.R.E.’s elementary, middle and high school curricula, as well as its enhancement lessons on subjects that include bullying, internet safety, and over-the-counter prescription drug and opiates abuse, have been developed through partnerships with highly respected universities and prevention education experts.  Each curriculum has been developed and approved under the guidance of D.A.R.E. America’s Scientific Advisory Committee chaired by Richard Clayton, Ph.D.

After a review that considered multiple criteria, D.A.R.E. America partnered with Pennsylvania State University to develop and adopt the keepin’ it REAL drug prevention curriculum. In 2008, D.A.R.E. launched keepin’ it REAL in middle schools; in 2013, D.A.R.E. launched kiR’s elementary school curricula.

Multiple government organizations and institutions, as well as highly respected journals, have endorsed and favorably reported upon D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL curricula.

Surgeon General Report

The Surgeon General’s 2016 landmark report entitled, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, concluded that alcohol and drug misuse, disorders, and addiction, are among America’s most pressing public health concerns. As the Surgeon General’s report states, “The good news is that there is strong scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of prevention programs and policies.” keepin’ it REAL curriculum is among a number of programs the Surgeon General identifies as building social, emotional, cognitive, and substance refusal skills that provide children accurate information on rates and amounts of peer substance use.

The President’s 2017 Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

This Presidential Commission’s recently released report states…Substance abuse prevention is a process which requires a shift in behavior, culture, and community norms…When evidence-based programs are selected for specific populations and implemented with fidelity, they can be effective… School programs implementing environmental approaches targeting children focus on building a repertoire of positive competencies, including in the areas of academics, self-regulation, and social skills. The Commission’s report identifies keepin’ it REAL as one such intervention programs.

California Healthy Kids Resource Center

The California Healthy Kids Resource Center, a division of the California Departments of Health and Education, professional Research & Evaluation staff ensure optimal services for families and children by providing internal and external stakeholders with useful tools and information that can be used for program evaluation, forecasting and strategic planning, contract compliance, and advocacy. The Center lists keepin’ it REAL as “research validated”…its equivalent of an evidence-based ranking.

United Nations

D.A.R.E. is the only international drug prevention curricula to hold consultative status with the Committee on Non-Government Organizations of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Scientific American

In its September 10, 2014 issue, Scientific American published an article entitled, The New D.A.R.E. Program – this one worksThe article notes that Richard Clayton, Ph.D., a retired prevention researcher formerly of the University of Kentucky, was also once an outspoken critic of D.A.R.E., has since been invited to join D.A.R.E.’s board of directors and chair its Scientific Advisory Committee.

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly

In August 2017, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly published a comprehensive article on the significant changes in D.A.R.E. curricula over the past decade. Among the information presented in the article are the following:  “Randomized controlled trials of the new curriculum, called “keepin’ it REAL,” have shown that in 14 months, drug use was reduced in students who received the D.A.R.E. curriculum compared to peers who didn’t.”

What keepin’ it REAL Evaluations Conclude


Drs. Michael Hecht and Michelle Miller-Day have authored several of the studies that demonstrated keepin’ it REAL’s effectiveness.  The largest one, published by Hecht, Miller-Day, and their colleagues in 2003, asked 6,000 students to fill out questionnaires about their use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana at several points over a two-year period. The reports from students who completed keepin’ it REAL indicated that:

  • They had used these substances less than those in a control group, and used a wider variety of strategies to refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.
  • Their anti-drug attitudes were also more likely to stick over time. A subset of that study, comprised of 1,300 students who were already using drugs, showed a much larger percentage reduced their use of drugs than did those in the control group.

The rigorous, scientific evaluations of the keepin’ it REAL curriculum for students in grades 6-9 show students completing the course experienced a:

  • 32% to 44% reduction in marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use
  • 29% to 34% decrease in intent to accept substances
  • Reduction and cessation in substance use among those already using

D.A.R.E. is the Bridge to Building Trust and Positive Community-Police Relations

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “The D.A.R.E. program…offers students the opportunity to gain a trustworthy adult friend, develop a positive attitude toward law enforcement personnel, and acquire greater respect for the law.”

Why D.A.R.E. is Unique and Set Apart from Other Curricula


Comprehensive Coverage

D.A.R.E.’s curricula are effective, impactful, and developmentally age-specific for all grades, preK-2, 3rd and 4th grade, Elementary, Middle, and High School, and include supplemental enhancement lessons (prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse, internet safety, bullying and role models).

Comprehensive System of Advisory Boards

D.A.R.E. has always sought oversight for its activities with experts from various fields and has four longstanding advisory boards: Scientific Advisory Board, Education Advisory Board, Law Enforcement Advisory Board, and Youth Advocacy Board.

Robust Training System

The key to effective delivery of school-based, curriculum-driven prevention programming is a comprehensive “system” dedicated to training those who will deliver the curricula. D.A.R.E. has 22 Regional/State Training Centers and six International D.A.R.E. Training Centers that arrange for DOTs (D.A.R.E. Officer Training). The D.A.R.E. Training and Curriculum Committee, consisting of officers with extensive experience delivering curricula, oversee the entire training process. Additionally, every four years, each D.A.R.E. training center undergoes a rigorous accreditation process. Merrill et al. (2006) said: “The only national delivery system for drug abuse prevention in the United States that comes closest to an ideal model is Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E. Essential to understanding how important D.A.R.E. is to the field of prevention is recognizing…the delivery system itself, made up of thousands of trained local law enforcement officer-instructors.”

In contrast, the length of training for most other prevention programs is only 2-3 days and is usually offered only to existing classroom teachers. Further, these programs offer neither a nationwide training system for instructors nor a rigorous process to ensure that training centers are accredited.


Highly Trained Officers Deliver the Curricula

Only officers who are carefully vetted by leadership in their community law enforcement agencies are sent to DOTs. They are further vetted by the mentors responsible for training new D.A.R.E. officers. Then, D.A.R.E. officers undergo a rigorous 80-hour training course conducted by mentors with a significant number of years of classroom experience as well as university-level educators in Colleges of Education. All officers are taught to deliver the curricula exactly as they are written, thereby achieving the goal of nearly 100% implementation fidelity. It is important to note that not all who begin a DOT graduate. Throughout the 80-hour course (this includes only time spent receiving instruction, it does not include hours of practicing the lessons in small groups and in front of the entire group) officers in the DOT are assessed for readiness to deliver the curricula. It is not unusual for an officer undergoing the training to be sent home without graduating.

“Local Human Face” for Prevention at the Community-Level

When classroom teachers deliver a prevention curriculum, parents and others in the community think of them as “teachers” of a certain grade, or “teachers” of a certain topic (mathematics, English, Civics, Health Education, etc.), not as teachers of “prevention.” However, parents, school administrators, teachers, and members of the general community think of law enforcement officers as THE D.A.R.E. Officer who teaches drug prevention. The most common comment from parents received by researchers evaluating the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. is: “The D.A.R.E. officer was always at our family dinner table on the days he/she was in our child’s classroom/school.”

Annual National/International Training Conferences

In 2017, D.A.R.E held its 30th annual training conference for D.A.R.E. officers offering over 70 workshops on updates of the curricula and topic-specific issues that will help the officers address issues experienced by youth in preK-12 grades. In addition to the United States, trained officers deliver D.A.R.E. curricula in 52 other countries. The Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), responsible for drug abuse issues held its annual summer meeting at the 30th D.A.R.E. training conference.

Annual College Scholarship for One Youth Leader

For 25 years, from 1995-2017, D.A.R.E. America has awarded an annual college scholarship to one member of the Youth Advocacy Board that is comprised of one representative from each state. D.A.R.E. enlists an intensive and extensive review and selection process to select the annual recipient to receive the $20,000 scholarship. Since 1995, D.A.R.E. has awarded $440,000 in total scholarship funds; no other curricula program has a college scholarship award.
Every one of the 3,142 counties in the United States contains at least one, often more than one law enforcement agency and one or more community schools with grades pre K-12, and the appropriate educational administrative structures. These local institutions, found universally in all communities, benefit substantially when there is “collaboration” among representatives of the various institutions. Nationally, “community-based policing” is a dominant approach for law enforcement agencies. D.A.R.E. is an essential component of community-based policing.

From a prevention perspective, the pre K-12, D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL curricula are targeted at all students (i.e. “universal” prevention) rather than being targeted at students with specific risk factors (“selected” prevention) or at students who are already using drugs (“indicated” prevention).

The primary goal of most school-based, curriculum-driven prevention programming is to encourage decisions to never use drugs, or at least facilitate a significant delay in the onset of use of drugs. The focus of social-emotional learning principles in the D.A.R.E./keepin’ it REAL curricula could be critical elements in decisions to not continue using drugs, to encourage decreasing and/or completely stopping the use of drugs.

D.A.R.E. America recognizes that its comprehensive pre K-12 curricula are only one, although a potentially significant part of an overall and comprehensive approach to drug use and abuse. It is important to note that all law enforcement agencies are officially committed to the mission of reducing the supply of drugs (i.e., supply reduction) as well as reducing the demand (demand reduction) for drugs via prevention.


IS D.A.R.E. STILL AROUND? Not only is D.A.R.E. still around, it’s growing with education programs in every state in America and many other countries. Since 2018, more than 300 communities throughout the United States launched a new D.A.R.E. program. Elementary, middle, and high school curricula, as well as critical enhancement lessons on subjects including opioid abuse prevention, vaping, and teen suicide, are now being taught in these communities by officers who attended one of the 97 two-week, intensive D.A.R.E. training courses conducted from 2018 through 2020. More than 2,400 new D.A.R.E. Officers from virtually every state in America were graduated.

I HEARD D.A.R.E. DOESN’T WORK? Today’s D.A.R.E. curricula work! D.A.R.E. has partnered with prestigious educational institutions to adapt curricula proven to be effective. The D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL (kiR) middle school curriculum was developed by Pennsylvania State and Arizona State Universities with funding provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The two high school curriculums were developed by Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro respectively. These curricula have been proven effective through rigorous scientific evaluations. The D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum is currently the subject of rigorous scientific evaluation, results of a preliminary evaluation of the curriculum conducted by Chapman University showed positive outcomes. 

IS D.A.R.E. CURRICULA EVIDENCE-BASED? YES…D.A.R.E. curricula are science and evidence-based. Multiple studies have been conducted that have established that the keepin’ it REAL elementary and middle school curricula are effective. When someone asks if D.A.R.E. is “evidence-based,” what do they mean? They mean is research available showing that the curriculum is effective in reducing outcomes such as drug use, bullying and other problem behaviors by improving the decision-making and other skills of those who were exposed to the lessons compared to those who were not? And, the answer is YES. 

ARE D.A.R.E. CURRICULA RELEVANT AND STATE-OF-THE-ART? D.A.R.E. offers the most comprehensive prevention curricula available for K-12 students anywhere. The curriculum meets multiple National Core Standards in the areas of Reading (Literature, Informational Text, and Foundational Skills), Writing and Speaking and Learning. The 10 lessons in D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL elementary curriculum are aligned with National Common Core 5th grade standards. D.A.R.E. curricula provide students the knowledge and skills to make good decisions for safe and healthy living. D.A.R.E.’s keepin’ it REAL elementary and middle-school curricula are based on Socio-Emotional Learning Theory which identifies basic skills and processes needed for healthy youth development. Beyond this, D.A.R.E.’s enhancement lessons include bullying, cyber security, a supplemental marijuana lesson, family talks, and the recently launched K-12 Opioid & & Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention lessons.

Copyright © 2022 D.A.R.E. America. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2022 D.A.R.E. America.
All Rights Reserved.