The informant enters through the side door of the police station, head down and eyes weepy. He operates with guilt-ridden subterfuge because of what he must do. He’s a shy boy of nine, convinced that what he is doing is just. He approaches the large door with a faded DARE logo plastered across opaque reinforced glass. A trembling hand twists hard at the knob. The door is heavy, but he manages to pull it open. A burly police officer turns to greet his young visitor.
Thoughts form words as cumbersome as rocks in his mouth. Fixated on the policeman’s shiny badge and stuttering at first, his lips quiver slightly as he spits the words out:
Mommy smokes marijuana.
The government has garnered juvenile recruits for use on the battlefields of its war on drugs since the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 provided taxpayer funding for DARE programs across the United States. According to its official website, more than 26 million children – many of them fresh out of fourth grade – are being used in a modern day government sponsored version of the Salem Witch Trials.
Except the modern day trials involve special merit badges and insidiously pit children against their own families. The Wall Street Journal reported that “In two recent cases in Boston, children who had tipped police stepped out of their homes carrying D.A.R.E. diplomas as police arrived to arrest their parents.”
I don’t care if Bubba winds up with meth mouth because he just couldn’t lay off that Dixie Crystal. Nor do I mind if little Darnell ODs on junk.
Keep it real, yo.
I’m not touched by schmaltzy editorials featuring the customary sob story of this week’s recovering heroin addict. What does concern me is the fact that the DARE program is collectively financed by taxpayer money.
A research study from LeMoyne College estimated the cost of running the DARE program in the United States at $1.04 to $1.34 billion per year in 2001. If the government spends over a billion dollars a year promoting DARE’s mission statement of “Teaching students good decision making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives,” then we would be remiss not to demand objective, quantifiable measures of success.
Instead, we are met with a compendium of failure. Since 1992, nearly every serious study concerning the efficacy of the DARE program has concluded that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars at best. At worst, it provides an introduction to drugs and may actually play a role in supporting and sustaining drug use.
Programs like DARE play a role in placating taxpaying parents so they can sleep peacefully at night. Never mind that righteous DARE officers across the nation had a means to justify their inflated budgets.
It’s for the kids, don’t you know.
But the problem isn’t that kids don’t know shooting a deck of heroin might not be such a great life choice. Nor is there ubiquitous lack of concern among parental figures. And either through curiosity or peer pressure, most kids have had real-life exposure to drugs, so telling them the weed man is off-limits tends to make his commodities that much more desirable.
And that’s just it.
Kids use drugs because they’re alluring. The high distracts them from a society that tells them they can do no wrong, doesn’t hold them to any rigorous standards and expects very little from them in return. One of the oddities of the Western world is that kids turn to drugs to kill their boredom. Precious Timmy snorts coke because Mommy took away his Comcast privileges.
He plays video games all day and consistently scores in the bottom tenth percentile on standardized tests, but curbing his access to downloadable porn will set him straight.
After all, Mama Bear knows best.
And there are millions more just like her. They expect the government and their local school district to spare them the pain of being active participants in the development of their children. Their parental inertia churns out programs like DARE and directly contributes to the very problems they are designed to address.
Sure, they know drugs are bad and exposure to them is inevitable, but they’ve convinced themselves that outsourcing the problem is the best solution.
And when the Timmys of the world are not blowing lines right under Mommy’s nose, they’re kvetching about how misunderstood and unappreciated they are. After all, it’s not their fault they can’t cope with the unabated pressures in their lives.
Black Ops III is fucking hard.
But beyond the parental penchant of subcontracting child rearing responsibilities, there is a more reasonable – and obvious – explanation as to why programs like DARE will never work.
Youths of every stripe seem inclined to rebel against authority, regardless of the transparency and altruism of its message. They put steaming piles of shit in your mailbox, and yes, some of them smoke pot. They play by all the rules that aren’t inconvenient to them.
But try explaining to them your take on the subtleties of appropriateness, and they’ll create a Facebook account of you with a caption detailing your fondness of little boys’ danglies.
Teen males get stiff at the sight of buffed linoleum and will decorate any senorita sporting a tramp stamp willing to play the target. They do what seems fun regardless of social mores and legal technicalities, and reasoning with them only heightens the attraction.
Expecting to curb their natural proclivities to rebel against a society largely disinterested in holding them to any real standards should warrant a stupidity badge, but not federal funding.
So parents, blame nature if you must. But don’t expect us to be collectively responsible for little Baker’s drug habit.
And pass the bowl, I need another hit.