Drugs Just Say No to Abstinence-Only Education
posted by September 10 at 15:19 PMon
Last week I was chided in comments for suggesting that drug education, like sex education, shouldn’t use the abstinence-only formula. Sarah Palin and her baby-making-baby machine is sufficient proof that it’s a failure. But, folks said, I was equating two completely separate issues; because drugs aren’t sex. Today Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD, author of Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens, Drugs and Drug Education, writes on Alternet.
Look at abstinence-only drug education and you get the same disappointing results as with sex education.
Over two decades ago, as part of the escalating war on drugs and Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” campaign, Congress implemented the 1986 Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act. Federally-funded drug prevention education for teens was mandated to adhere to a strict abstinence-only message….
These strategies have proven just as unsuccessful as abstinence-only sexuality education. Studies of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), still the most popular school-based prevention program in the United States, have consistently shown that there is no difference in terms of drug use between students who had D.A.R.E. and those who did not. … As for the drug czar’s billion-dollar anti-drug media campaign — several researchers, as well as the Government Accountability Office, have shown that the ads are ineffective and sometimes actually counterproductive in convincing teens to abstain.
The difference between drugs and sex, of course, is that almost everybody tries sex—and folks keep up that nasty habit, if they can—but only about half of people try drugs. Then most of ‘em stop. But some people, no matter whatcha do or say, are going to get high. But pretending that we craft some silver-bullet prevention ad for television and 100 percent of will the population will resist the temptation is shamefully naïve. If nothing more, telling kids to “just say no” makes the forbidden fruit all the more appealing.