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“DARE to Inform On Your Parents: The Classroom as the Police State’s Foyer”

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, Seattle, Washington, 1998.


David Price


The brainchild of Darryl Gates, and increasingly funded by seized (“forfeited”) property of individuals charged with drug related offenses, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) has become a significant feature of the America’s K through 12 enculturation process.  In the midst of a growing awareness that the nation-wide DARE program is both expensive and ineffective there has been almost no recognition of the functional importance of DARE to the growth of the American Police State.  While DARE’s own publicity claims that one of the most significant contributions made to communities by the program is its ability to gain the trust of young students in the neutral setting of public school classrooms, few communities have taken this advertisement as a warning.


This paper examines an incident which occurred in November 1997 in the rural community of Yelm, Washington when a grade school child informed on her recently unemployed parent’s small marijuana growing operation to the classroom DARE officer.  The events leading up to this episode and the after effects for the family are considered in light of the overall society-wide increase in American police departments relying on individuals to inform on family members suspected of crimes.  The features of this case are contrasted with evidence that the “Crime Stoppers” program—which uses elaborate procedures of supposedly anonymous money drops to pay citizen informers for turning in information about crimes committed by other citizens to local police departments—frequently pays individuals for turning in family members to the police.  This case study illustrates one of the fundamental ways in which local police forces are working to more tightly integrate local and regional institutions all the way down to the level of the family to form a completely integrated police state.