National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and DARE officials vehemently deny the accusation that they suppressed a federally-funded study that found the DARE program to be ineffective in preventing drug use among children (Jacob R. Clark, "A Controversial DARE," Law Enforcement News, Nov. 15, 1994, p. 1).
"The statement that the NIJ refused to publish the report is flat-out wrong," said NIJ Director Jeremy Travis, reacting to an Oct. 4 article in USA Today by Dennis Cauchon. "Our only disagreement is on [the study's] methodology, not its conclusions."
As was reported in the Sept./Oct. issue of NewsBriefs, the study by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) found that DARE is not effective in curbing drug use among its participants, that DARE is less effective than other anti-drug abuse programs, and that some of the program's problems can be tied to the inexperienced police officers who lead the lessons ("Results of Justice's DARE Study Not Published," NewsBriefs, Sept./Oct.1994, p. 11).
Travis said that the study was rejected by the NIJ's peer review panel twice for methodological reasons. The panel took issue with the authors' use of meta-analysis, in which they compared their results with eight other DARE studies and measured DARE against other anti-drug abuse programs. The NIJ panel cautioned that comparing DARE to other similar but not identical programs could lead to bogus results. "It's in that area of the dissimilarity between [the program types] where our peer reviewers said the meta-analysis should not allow RTI to make some of the conclusions that they made," Travis said. The study was sent back to RTI, but the Institute refused to re-evaluate the findings.
As a result of the peer-review panel recommendations, NIJ decided not to publish the study's findings in its "Research in Brief" series. A two-page summary of the study was published in NIJ's "National Institute of Justice Update," and the study is available from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (see below).
"They fund many, many studies in a year, and a few will be selected for publication, but they must meet the highest standards. So why would they publish something that their scientific peer review said wasn't worthy?" said DARE spokesperson Roberta Silverman.
[For the original article in USA Today, see Dennis Cauchon, "Study Critical of DARE Rejected," Oct. 4, 1994, p. 2A. The National Drug Strategy Network has obtained the DARE study and will make copies available for $15 each. Write to NDSN, 1899 L Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036. To obtain it from the government for $25, contact NCJRS at 301-251-5500, order number 150713.]