The Tara Treatment Center Blog

In D.A.R.E.’s Defense: Sgt. Christine Rapp

Truth or D.A.R.E. with sergeant Christine Rapp

Last week we featured addiction and relapse expert Lawrence Pender’s poignant criticism of the D.A.R.E. program.  For the sake of good reporting, we reached out to Abbey Norris at D.A.R.E. Indiana who referred us to an expert local D.A.R.E. leader, Sergeant Chris Rapp.

dare sergeant rapp
Sergeant Christine Rapp is a senior mentor on the DARE Indiana Training Team

Rapp Battle

Below is Christine’s response to Lawrence Pender’s criticism of D.A.R.E. being out of date or inneffective:  

DARE is different now.  I began teaching in 1999 and am now teaching my 3rd updated curriculum for the 5th/6th grade (core program).  The latest curriculum which we implemented in 2014 allowed for myself and a handful of other DARE Officer’s to work with Dr. Michael Hecht and his team of researchers.  The new DARE concentrates less on drug information and more on good decision-making.  If we can get our kids to make better decisions in everyday life, they will make better decisions regarding drugs.  We use a 4 step DARE decision making model-Define, Assess, Respond, Evaluate.  We teach it and practice with situations they might encounter.  The new curriculum also covers risk and consequences, peer pressure, stress, being confident, effective listening, bullying, and being a good citizen.”

“The New D.A.R.E.”

“DARE is not the perfect answer to the drug problem. However, I believe it is a great program that really makes a difference for some kids.  In 20 years of teaching DARE I have found that there is a certain number of kids that will always do the right thing and be very successful.  There are some kids that are riding the fence and can be swayed either way with peer pressure.  And unfortunately there are kids that no matter what we do they will choose the wrong path.  The relationships made between DARE Officer and students is what makes DARE so successful!  I feel my job is first connecting with kids and second teaching them to make good decisions.  I have taught over 13,000 students.  It still really causes me pain when I see a former students name in the arrest file.  I often will stop at the jail to see them and let them know I am still available to talk to if they want to.  They always tell me they wish they had listened to me when they were 10 years old!  On the other hand, I get countless graduation invitations, both high school and college, wedding invitations, and baby announcements.  Just last year I had a student tell me, “you taught my Mom!  She talks about you all the time”.

On Parent Involvement:

“I believe parent involvement is on the decline. The kids often tell me their parents are too busy on their computers or phones to play with or even talk to them. Teachers will tell you that parents seldom come to parent/teacher conferences anymore.  I do not know what the solution is to this problem.  I do know that a DARE Officer is often the only time a child has a positive encounter with a law enforcement officer. To me, this is the most important thing DARE provides! One of the things we do in the class that the kids love is a DARE box.  This is a box they can put questions into anonymously.  They can ask anything they want.  I get questions about my job, me personally, how to talk to their parents about not smoking.  I have even had kids tell me about illegal things their parents are doing or abuses they are suffering. It’s amazing how eating lunch with a 5th grader can change their behavior at school.  They just want some attention.”

Lawrence Pender on D.A.R.E.
While Lawrence Pender has DARE criticisms, he and Christine agree on the importance of family, "It is so vital for parents to be involved...Juveniles just don't have the healthy fear of drugs anymore." Click here for Lawrence Pender's 'hot-take' on D.A.R.E.

Thanks Christine!

“I hope I have been able to give you some insight into the current DARE program.  Please see the official D.A.R.E. updates below for specifics on what D.A.R.E. is up to these days!”


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


Most Comprehensive Prevention Education ProgramD.A.R.E. education programs are 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.

Comprehensive K-12 Curricula – D.A.R.E.’s curricula are science and evidence-based and developmentally age-specific with distinct, multi-week core curricula for elementary, middle, and high school students.  For a list of numerous articles and studies on the effectiveness of D.A.R.E., visit

Free K-12 Opioid & Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Curricula – D.A.R.E.’s enhancement lessons include the only FREE K-12 Opioid & OTC/Rx abuse prevention package of lessons available.

Curricula Created by Experts – D.A.R.E. benefits from experts in various fields through four longstanding advisory boards:  Scientific Advisory Board, Education Advisory Board, Law Enforcement Advisory Board, and Youth Advocacy Board.

Highly Trained Officers Deliver the Curricula – D.A.R.E. officers must complete a rigorous, 80-hour training course conducted by mentors with years of classroom experience, as well as university-level educators.  All officers are taught to deliver the curricula exactly as they are written seeking the goal of 100% fidelity of delivery.

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

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, states that the keepin’ it REAL curriculum is among a number of programs that builds social, emotional, cognitive, and substance refusal skills and that provides 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 report states, “When evidence-based programs are selected for specific populations and implemented with fidelity, they can be effective.”  The Commission’s report identifies keepin’ it REAL as one such program.

California Healthy Kids Resource Center – The California Healthy Kids Resource Center, a division of the California Departments of Health and Education, 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 works.  The article notes that Richard Clayton, Ph.D., a retired prevention researcher formerly of the University of Kentucky, who was also once an outspoken critic of D.A.R.E., has since joined D.A.R.E.’s board of directors and chairs its Scientific Advisory Committee.

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly – In August 2017, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly published a comprehensive article which states, “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.”

Michele Leonhart Francisco X. Pegueros

Chair, D.A.R.E. America Board of Directors President & CEO

Former Administrator, DEA D.A.R.E. America