The White House is discontinuing ads that link drug use to terrorism. A preliminary study found that their target market, children, were not influenced by the campaign. The controversial ads, first shown on the Superbowl, portray drug abuse as a personal decision, then connect drug money to terrorism and violence. The campaign's failure is another disappointment for broad-based drug prevention programs.
Some experts in child behavior are not surprised by the failure of the ads. "Look at any kind of massive intervention or prevention program. They haven't been universally effective," says Cathy Telzrow, Ph.D., professor at Kent State University. Recent research backs up Telzrow's claim.
A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in February found that the nation's most popular drug prevention program, DARE--Drug Abuse Resistance Education--is ineffective. Researchers from the University of Minnesota discovered that DARE had no impact on illicit drug use for the seventh- and eight-graders who completed the program.
Schools that did not use the program had the same rate of drug abuse than those that did. Solutions for drug prevention are most effective at a family level, such as parents spending more time with their kids, argues Telzrow.