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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks on Signing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Day Proclamation


First, let me thank the three presenters. It's not easy to get up in front of a big, scary audience like this and do such a good job, say what's on your heart, not worry if people agree with you or not, but recognizing that there's a common theme here that you all did a beautiful job on, and that is: Turn your back on drugs. And thank you very much for that presentation.

To Officer Morales from California and his counterpart, Officer Chapman from the east coast, this ``Hands Across the Continent'' that we saw here today says something about D.A.R.E. and its national nature. To Chief Gates, my respected friend; the Deputy Chief, Mr. Levant; and of course Mr. Shapell -- he epitomizes the old adage that if you want to get a big job done, get a busy man to do it -- and a successful one at that. And so, we're grateful to him for this, being one of the million Points of Light out there willing to give of his time to support a worthwhile program.

Barbara is a late starter for this event, but when I told her that Daryl was here for the D.A.R.E. program, she changed her schedule to be with us, and I am delighted she is because she feels so strongly about what you're doing. So, let me welcome you to America's house, where today we reaffirm our commitment to stop the scourge which threatens every American.

Fifty years ago, about, Winston Churchill said, ``Without victory, there is no survival.'' America's enemy then was the tyranny of totalitarianism. Today, America has another enemy and that is the tyranny of drug use. And that's why, last week, I did announce, as Daryl said, America's first comprehensive national strategy to wage all-out war against the tyranny of drugs -- an almost billion effort, the largest increase in history. But we must have your help, too. And you know something? I am convinced we're going to get it, because perhaps no one has manned more front lines than the hundreds of dedicated Americans who form the ranks of D.A.R.E. -- Drug Abuse Resistance Education. You talk of values -- and we heard that here today -- of right and wrong, and teach kids to do good and reject evil by avoiding drugs and by then opposing drugs.

Perhaps Daryl Gates put it best when he himself said, ``Rather than just offering slogans, D.A.R.E. teaches children how to deal with peer pressure.'' Good words, sensible words. And this front-line police chief ought to know. He cofounded D.A.R.E. 6 years ago when 10 police officers were assigned as drug abuse instructors right there in the Los Angeles city schools -- all veterans, all with street experience, all with unmatched credibility. And those officers were mentors, telling kids the truth about alcohol and drugs, showing them how to make decisions and how to resist peer pressure, providing alternatives to drug use -- and they were pioneers. And you got a little sample of that from hearing Officer Morales here today -- pioneers of a program which has become a model for other cities -- a program which shows kids how to say no, but even more, to say yes to life.

I've watched the D.A.R.E. program in action. I saw it. I was there -- attended a school class where an officer reached out to the kids. I know that it works. And I was terribly impressed, and it made a lasting impression on me as we formulated our policies here.

D.A.R.E. approaches most students early in life when they're 9 to 11 years old, the age most vulnerable to peer pressure, and another D.A.R.E. program confronts older kids with potential drug problems. But whatever the age, the goal is clear: to show, on the one hand, how the road marked tomorrow is wide open; and on the other, how drugs are the deadest of dead-ends.

A seventh-grader named Kevin knows about dead-ends and so does his D.A.R.E. teacher, Officer Mark Caswell. Caswell has been in the L.A. Police Department for 11 years, first on street patrol and then with D.A.R.E. He joined this group for the simplest of reasons -- he could help save lives, and one of whose was Kevin's. Kevin wrote to D.A.R.E. officials and told them that on his way home, two kids -- two boys -- offered him drugs. And he told them that he didn't use any kind of drugs. And then he moved over to another seat on the bus. And as Kevin said, ``Thank you, D.A.R.E., for showing us the ways to say no to drugs.'' What a wonderful tribute -- small, perhaps, but what a glowing tribute to Officer Caswell. He, like others involved in D.A.R.E., should be very proud of those words.

And millions of Americans who are following Kevin's lead -- they, too, are rejecting the dead-end of drug use. In 50,000 classrooms in 49 States and the U.S. Department of Defense schools worldwide -- in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, American Samoa -- D.A.R.E. is teaching elementary and junior high kids to resist peer pressure, and this year, reaching 3 million kids in all.

In D.A.R.E. districts, school vandalism and truancy are down. So is ethic [ethnic] tensions and gang activity. Work habits and grades are up, and so is the mental attitude that makes progress possible. According to a Los Angeles-based independent research organization, D.A.R.E. students perform 50 percent better than nonprogram students in post tests to measure student drug use knowledge and attitudes. These kids have dared to excel, and they are succeeding. And so far, so good -- and yet, so far to go.

In my speech last week, I talked of stopping drug use before it starts through education and prevention in the cities and towns, through church, family, and the schools. And then I asked, ``Who's responsible?'' Everyone who uses drugs, everyone who sells drugs, and everyone who looks the other way -- that's who is responsible. My friends, you haven't looked the other way. You are involved, for your sake and America's. And we, too, will be involved. Whether in prevention or treatment, we'll be there to help people stay clean and to get clean. Our new strategy calls for a 25-percent funding increase, or an additional 3 million, for prevention and education, and a 53-percent increase of 1 million for drug treatment. Any American who wants help should be able to find help. So let us finish the job D.A.R.E. has started and create an America we can all be proud of -- an America free from drugs.

Thank you so very much for coming to the White House and for your generosity and, in most cases here, your inspired leadership. God bless you and the work of this wonderful organization. And now, I'm very pleased to sign the proclamation declaring tomorrow National D.A.R.E. Day.

Well, I guess that does it. Nice to see you, sir. Let me thank these officers.

Note: The President spoke at 10:13 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening remarks, he referred to Officers Louis Morales and Nathan Shapell, Chief Daryl Gates, and Deputy Chief Glenn A. Levant of the Los Angeles Police Department, and Detective Patricia Chapman of the Arlington County, VA, Police Department. The proclamation is listed in Appendix E at the end of this volume.

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