Date of Award

May 2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Amanda I. Seligman

Committee Members

Joseph A. Rodriguez, Richard K. Popp


DARE, Daryl Gates, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, Glenn Levant, LAPD, LAUSD


In 1983 Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officials teamed with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) health curriculum specialist, Dr. Ruth Rich, to redesign an anti-tobacco curriculum, Project Self-Management and Resistance Training (SMART), into Project Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE). In the first four years of Project DARE, local, state, and, federal government branches endorsed the program as an efficient tool in the local and national fight against youth drug abuse. Early program evaluations, conducted by the Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI), demonstrated DARE’s ability to change attitudes of students, school faculty, and parents concerning social tolerance of underage drug consumption, while also improving attitudes held toward police officers. These evaluations endorsed the expansion of DARE to all LAUSD schools, followed closely by the program’s nationwide expansion. This thesis examines how police officers displaced parent activists’ role in teaching children drug prevention techniques and why, by 1987, the emergent Bureau of Justice Assistance, a branch of the Department of Justice, funded five Regional Officer Training Centers (RTCs) across the country. By investigating previous federal drug responses, media-driven drug panics, and the expanded role of police in drug prevention education, the DARE program is reconsidered as a curricular vehicle which filtered parental guidance out of youth drug prevention and increased authority and autonomy to police departments across the country.