Experimental Mysticism in the Classroom

-  Based on the idea that education can cut into the drug cartels' sources of revenue, there have arisen several programs aimed at instructing young people about drugs and the consequences involved in using them. The reasoning is that if people can be induced to make informed choices from an early age, the number of drug users will dwindle sufficiently so as to make it less profitable for drug dealers to operate. The most well-known drug awareness program is D.A.R.E. -- Drug Abuse Resistance Education (hereafter referred to as DARE).

Since DARE has become a regular part of today's education scene, knowledge of DARE's operation is of vital importance to Christian parents. What is DARE? Does DARE really work in preventing children from becoming involved in drugs? Should Christian children be involved in DARE?

-  DARE was conceived in 1983 by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Daryl Gates. He believed that if the system could get to the kids while they were still young and relatively unexposed to drugs, especially by a credible role model such as a police officer, fewer would choose to do drugs when they got older. The DARE program quickly got spread to other school districts throughout the nation through DARE America, a private funding arm put together by the LAPD working with major corporate sponsors. Now most every state has its own DARE training center. Having established its programs in the elementary grades first, DARE has expanded to Junior High and High Schools.

-  DARE takes an approach designed to present children with informed decision-making opportunities. DARE's stated strategy is one of prevention, teaching social skills such as how to resist pressure from others, and consequential thinking which presents options and their consequences if followed. However, there is more to DARE than meets the eye. Charges from credible sources are correct: DARE is not a drug prevention program, but rather psychotherapy with a basis in values clarification and self-esteem enhancement.

A basic premise of the DARE Program is that low self-esteem is a principle cause of drug abuse. Therefore, DARE attempts to raise childrens' self-esteem by helping them think of themselves as worthy of a good life and capable of achieving whatever they desire. Thus, only positive individuals are presented as role models.

-  DARE utilizes what is known as "affective education." Children are subjected to psychotherapy as a means to condition them to think critically and to establish their own set of values in their relationships with others. This is actually "Experimental Mysticism," a name attributed to psychologist Joseph Hart, and is a blend of "meditation psychotherapy and encounter techniques." Synonyms for affective education were called by Dr. Hart "humanistic," "circle-based," "process education," and "experiential education"; i.e., experimental mysticism was developed atop a foundation provided by client-centered psychotherapy. (This is nothing other than Rogerian Psychology, which teaches that one's values should be discovered within oneself -- they should not be imposed from without.) Thus, it is Joseph Hart's experimental mysticism that is the basis of all affective education programs in today's schools. It incorporates group therapy, values clarification (now referred to as "critical thinking"), deep breathing exercises (yoga), meditation, and myriad other means by which intuitional, non-objective reasoning is reached. It affirms that there are no right or wrong choices; what is wrong for one individual may be right for another individual. Therefore, in drug awareness programs for example, children are not instructed to abstain from drugs because they are harmful and illegal. Rather, they are instructed only to weigh the consequences of any action to determine whether or not that action is right for them, with the hope they will choose not to use drugs.

-  This values clarification approach, rather than an approach of teaching right from wrong, was made very clear by Dr. Jerold Greenberg at the State University of New York:

"I propose that the objectives of health education not be decreasing the incidence of smoking, drug abuse, or any other health-related behavior. Rather, the objectives should be to improve self-esteem, decrease alienation, help students realize the effects of peer group pressure, learn health knowledge and skills, and so on. [It should] free people to make their own decisions."

Greenberg has classified the "student in school" as a "client" for this experiment in psychotherapy -- the client is your child in the classroom!

Currently, every approved sex-education program in American public schools implements Greenberg's strategy -- the psychotherapeutic approach to education. Most drug-awareness programs also utilize this approach; some of the more well-known are Quest, DECIDE, Project SMART, Here's Looking at You 2000, and DARE.

-  In the early 1970s, a Stanford University research team, headed by Dr. Richard Blum, began testing affective education on school children. His intention was that his experiment would keep kids away from drugs; he learned instead that "it guided them toward early use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana; and he knew that, as 'gateway drugs,' these could lead to amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin." Blum concluded that less time should be given to "process," as it is called, and "more to content ... it is clear that slighting content and substituting a psychotherapeutic style of classroom management turns out to hurt good children." In other words, feeling-oriented, affective education, not only fails to achieve the desired results, but actually induces undesirable results. (In yet another study, USC's Project SMART for alcohol prevention, found that "significantly more members of the experimental group [those involved in Project SMART] than the controls [those not involved in Project SMART] imbibed alcohol. 'It was as if we had driven them to drink!'")

One must, therefore, always remember that to the "social scientists" who promote these programs, success does not lie in reduced aberrant behavior, but in free choice, whether for or against that behavior. Even the study offered by DARE as evidence of its success in combating drug use has mixed results. While in some local DARE groups there has been a modicum of success, overall these programs are either ineffective or detrimental. None of the programs, some in operation since the early 1970s, can point to any outside, objective study to prove their effectiveness in sufficiently diminishing the involvement in traditionally undesirable actions by their subjects. This is exactly what one would expect to find since by affective education standards, the only result considered undesirable is for a child to make a decision based upon learned values (especially values learned from parents), rather than upon his own self-determined values.

-  DARE was created using the formulas of previous affective education programs, but with a new twist. While other programs utilize classroom teachers as "facilitators," DARE utilizes uniformed police officers! The DARE curriculum incorporates seventeen classroom sessions conducted by a DARE-trained police officer. Included are a variety of activities such as question-and-answer, role-playing, group discussion, and DARE Workbook exercises. (Not being familiar with psychotherapy, the DARE officers think nothing ill of the affective education approach.) These exercises are disarming because they are "fun." They bring out the emotions and soften attitudes toward others. And since DARE considers instruction on the dangers of drugs to be "scare tactics," enhanced self-esteem is assumed to be the answer instead. Not once in the course of seventeen lessons does the DARE officer ever say, "Don't use drugs." DARE works on developing the self-esteem that supposedly makes it easier to say "no." And it works on the specific ways to say "no." (See next section.)

-  One of the key elements in the DARE program, and in any "affective education" program, is the assumed positive relationship between self-esteem and decision making. In actuality, the emphasis is nothing but neo-paganism -- a religion based on worship of self. DARE teaches children that self-esteem means being one's own person, developing one's own values apart from values of others, especially the values of one's parents. The only outcome of such a philosophy is a generation of selfish, defiant, and rebellious people who put themselves before others. Children are being taught that they are worthy of self-esteem regardless of their behavior.

No true believer in Jesus Christ should buy the humanists' lie that low self-esteem is the reason for man's problems. The best Christian parents can expect from a program such as DARE is that the children will become well-adjusted humanists. (DARE officers are quoted as saying: "We have a course of 17 lesson plans. One is presented each week. It deals with the ways to feel good about themselves.") The idea that high self-esteem will keep kids off drugs is bogus. Some of the most well-publicized users of illegal drugs are famous entertainers (especially rock stars), well-heeled politicians, and high-society darlings. Who has higher self-esteem than these people?! Most are super egotists. Drug abuse extends across the full spectrum of human economic, social, and political strata. Why? Because man is plagued with self-esteem. It doesn't take a mental giant to see the results of "feel good" psychotherapy in the schools for the past three decades or so.

-  Another key element in the DARE program is Values Clarification, a process by which children are reprogrammed to set aside their parent's values and determine for themselves the values in life they wish to hold. It was the brainchild in the mid-1960s of social "scientists" -- in particular, Louis E. Raths, Merrill Harmin, and Sidney B. Simon. The Wall Street Journal clearly defines what is meant by values clarification:

"Teachers should never try to teach children correct values. To tell a student stealing is wrong or that kindness and loyalty are good values, would be, according to Values Clarification, to manipulate and coerce a student. Teachers should help students discover and clarify their own personal values instead of trying to force someone else's values on them."

But values clarification presupposes very specific views about human nature and society, it becomes a kind of "religious" position in its own right, which then competes directly with other religious views.

Values Clarification goes by many different names: "critical thinking," "decision-making skills," "situation ethics," "personal choice," and others. The meaning is the same: there are no values outside of yourself; you must determine what is right for you; what's right in one case may be wrong in another; values change with new understanding. It is strongly implied that to adopt one's parents' values is to fail to come to full self-actualization. In the process, however, children are reinforced with the new values of the education system -- the state's concept of what constitutes right and wrong. In the case of DARE, Values Clarification is openly espoused as a means to enhance one's self-esteem. (One must remember that "success" in affective education does not necessarily mean that fewer kids use drugs after going through the program; it means that the goal of getting kids to make their own choices has been met!)

For Christians, God's Word should establish the values by which we are to believe and act. Values Clarification by nature puts barriers between God's authority and the "self-actualized" child. It also puts barriers between parents and children. Values Clarification is a tool of Satan to take children from under the authority of their parents and place their decision-making in the hands of a godless, mindless, state-mandated educational system. One might just as well send his child to a Buddhist temple as to a public school where values clarification or any element of affective education is implemented!

-  A third key element in the DARE program is Group Therapy and Role Playing. DARE proposes group discussions and role playing as teaching strategies. The term "group discussions" can be misleading when applied to in-depth discussions of participants' personal lives. At that point the discussion transcends into group therapy, particularly if the motive is to help "actualize" participants, or to help them change or resolve attitudes and behavior. As stated in An Invitation to Project DARE, group discussions and role playing are used for exactly that purpose: Self-Esteem Enhancement; Risk Assessment; Decision-Making Skills; Interpersonal and Communication skills; and Critical Thinking. In child group discussions, Christian children do not belong in such groups with non-Christian children. The danger of conflict with the Biblical values that Christian parents want instilled in their children is just too great.

Role playing is another method used in DARE, and is merely another term for psycho-drama (i.e., spontaneous, dramatic role-play), a device used in psychotherapy . Such psychotherapeutic devices can break down inhibitions and result in the children revealing things that, in normal situations, they would not want to reveal. In some cases, this has resulted in police action against families and in children being separated from their parents.

-  Perhaps the most disconcerting definition of child abuse involves "mental abuse." This vague term has been used to justify the state's intrusion into the family for reasons as minor as depriving one's child of television viewing or other expressions of the child's personal will. Child abuse is so vaguely defined as to give the state absolute power to enforce its will in any circumstance that suits its globalist atheistic policy. Though rarely implemented as yet, child abuse may also include parents teaching their faith to their children. How would DARE fit into this scheme? The DARE officer is instructed that, while he or she is not acting in the role of a police officer, but as a facilitator, any revelations of illegal activities or suspected child abuse are to be reported to the principal, and appropriate action is to be taken. The psychotherapy of role playing and group therapy are specifically designed to break down inhibitions and cause children to reveal the secrets they would not normally reveal. The DARE program promises to be an ideal tool for the implementation of such a police state, and especially a means to gain information from children against their parents.

-  The problem with the whole DARE program lies in the methodology and the system devised by the Los Angeles Unified School District, a government agency long steeped in humanistic psychology. The police officers are as much victims of the psychotherapeutic approach as are the students; their training requires them to undergo the same therapy as they use on the students.

DARE is only one affective education program among many being implemented through virtually every educational district in the United States and in many foreign countries. It probably isn't the worst, simply because at least the kids see a uniformed police officer who attempts to gain their respect for law enforcement. Beyond that, however, DARE fits into the same category as all other such programs. Because Christians have lacked discernment for failure to study Scripture, Christian children are being sacrificed to Baal on the altars of education. Unless their parents take the time and effort, and are willing to suffer whatever is necessary to preserve their children from this evil, they will bear the guilt along with those educators into whose hands they placed them.

Note on DARE's "Effectiveness": 

[From a September, 2000, article by James Bovard, the author of Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years (St. Martin’s Press, August 2000). This article is adapted from an essay titled "DARE's Dying Gasp," published by The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org). See also "Destroying Families for the Glory of the Drug War," Parts I and II. (All three of these articles are available on the BDM CD-ROM.]

The nation's most popular drug education program may be on the ropes. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program is increasingly being tossed out of school systems as the evidence of its failure to deter drug use becomes overwhelming.

DARE was the brainchild of Los Angeles Police Department chief Daryl Gates, who launched the program in the early 1980s. More than 20 million students receive DARE training each school day; DARE is taught in every state and in three-quarters of the nation's school districts. The DARE curriculum is taught by police primarily to fifth- and sixth-graders, though children in kindergarten and in high school also receive DARE instruction. The police are supposed to serve as role models and trusted confidants.

America is deluged with DARE paraphernalia -- including bears, bumper stickers, buttons, hats, and jeeps. DARE has everything -- except good results. Many independent experts have found that DARE miserably fails students:

• The federal Bureau of Justice Assistance paid $300,000 to the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a North Carolina research firm, to analyze DARE’s effectiveness. The RTI study found that DARE failed to significantly reduce drug use. Researchers warned that "DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug-use curricula."

• Dennis Rosenbaum, professor of criminal justice studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, surveyed and tracked 1,800 kids who had DARE training, and concluded in 1998 that "suburban students who participated in DARE reported significantly higher rates of drug use … than suburban students who did not participate in the program."

• A 1999 study by the California legislative analyst's office "concluded that DARE didn't keep children from using drugs. In fact, it found that suburban kids who took DARE were more likely than others to drink, smoke and take drugs," the Los Angeles Times reported.

• A 1999 University of Kentucky study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, examined the effect of DARE on students' behavior over the subsequent 10 years. The report concluded: "Our results are consistent in documenting the absence of beneficial effects associated with the DARE program. This was true whether the outcome consisted of actual drug use or merely attitudes toward drug use." One Kentucky researcher observed: "The only difference was that those who received D.A.R.E. reported slightly lower levels of self-esteem at age 20."

Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson recently denounced DARE as "a fraud on the people of America." Anderson, who yanked DARE from Salt Lake City schools, complained: "For far too long, drug-prevention policies have been driven by mindless adherence to a wasteful, ineffective, feel-good program. DARE has been a huge public-relations success but a failure at accomplishing the goal of long-term drug-abuse prevention."

DARE America president Glenn Levant defends DARE by pointing to the reported 13 percent decline in teenage drug use in the most recent annual survey. However, the percentage of eighth-graders who used marijuana, cocaine, and LSD tripled between 1991 and 1997. DARE cannot claim credit for the most recent decline without accepting blame for the huge increase in the preceding years -- at a time when DARE already saturated the nation's public schools.

DARE suffered a stunning defeat in April of 2000 that could cripple its ability to stifle criticism. Federal judge Virginia Phillips, in a case involving DARE America's libel suit against Rolling Stone magazine, ruled that there was "substantial truth" to the charges that DARE had sought to "suppress scientific research" critical of DARE and had "attempted to silence researchers" at the Research Triangle Institute, editors at the American Journal of Public Health, and producers at Dateline: NBC.

DARE's feel-good photo opportunities are no substitute for effective drug education. American children deserve something more than a drug program that fails to persuasively inform and warn them of the danger of narcotics. Politicians, school officials, and police need the courage to admit that DARE is a dud.  [Return to Text]

* D.A.R.E. is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Except for the "Effectiveness Note," (above), this report has been excerpted almost entirely from a Media Spotlight Report by the same name, published in August 1992. The following is excerpted from a January 2001 statement from Media Spotlight concerning the failure of DARE programs: 

"When we first exposed the DARE program eight years ago, there were no secular studies done on the effectiveness of the anti-drug program. Over the past few years, however, reports in the news media of diverse studies indicate that not only has DARE proven ineffective in stemming the use of drugs among school children, some even state that those who take the training are more likely to become involved in drug use than those who do not take the training. About 80 percent of school districts in the U.S. implement the DARE program at a cost of $230 million. In the last few years, several cities and counties have dropped the program in the wake of critical studies. These include Seattle, Houston, Omaha, and Rochester, N.Y. among many others.

"One of the first studies came from the criminal justice department at the University of Illinois. A seven-year study in that state tracked students at 36 elementary schools, half of which offered the DARE program. While the study found that DARE students were less likely to use cigarettes immediately after graduating from the program, and started drinking later than those students who did not participate, after five years there was no appreciable difference in drug and alcohol use between the two groups. Other studies have drawn the same conclusions. 

"Two years ago, the Essex, Vermont schools and police discontinued the DARE program after meeting with teachers, parents, and students. The students said they thought the program was silly (some call it "lame"), and they didn’t remember much of what they had learned after they got into high school. Not to be deterred from addressing the problem of alcohol and drug abuse among children, however, some schools are trying other programs similar to DARE. Essex decided to try a new program called Project Northland, with sixth- through eight-graders. Project Northland is a shorter course (five or six sessions) that focuses primarily on alcohol.

"I would think that these will eventually be found ineffective as well. Why? Because the problem is not one of education, but of spiritual deficiency. The idea of attempting to bolster children’s self-esteem in the hope that they will be better people is approaching the problem from the wrong angle. Children already suffer from too much self-esteem. They need to be humbled; they do not need their egos fed."

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 8/01