During the 1980’s and the 1990’s, a focus was places on the amount of children in the United States using drugs, the increase in violence it lead to and premarital sex. One of the main supporters of this focus was former First Lady, Mrs. Ronald Reagan. During her time as First Lady, Mrs. Reagan coined the phrase “Just Say No” and the school seminars and other educational programs in efforts to teach kids to “just say no” when faced with the above mentioned temptations.
While experiencing success during the beginning part of the campaign, “Just Say No” crossed over into Europe where it was popularizes by BBC, Europe’s version of CNN. This phrase went onto make appearances in American TV shows such as Diff’rent Strokes and Punky Brewster.
As time went on though, many people began to question the success of this popular slogan. No great reduction in drug trafficking took place during the time of the campaign, if anything, the amount of drug use has only risen. Child stars who were once involved with the campaign, (Drew Barrymore, Corey Feldman and John Alford) have all admitted to using the illegal drugs at one point or another.
Over the last ten years drug education, (including seminars, teaching manuals, research, etc) has become a $2 billion industry. $1.25 billion comes from federal grants used for counseling, “anti-drug” activities and paraphernalia. $750 million of that comes from local and state governments, along with corporate gifts. Despite the amount of money being spent, there is little to no evidence to show how effective these programs have been. Even with the lack of results, once the money from the government has started to arrive, it is almost impossible to re-direct the flow or to stop it once having been started. One reason for this – the lack of the school’s and program directors wanting to admit failure after the amount of money already spent.
DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), SMART and ALERT are all programs that have stemmed from Mrs. Reagan’s campaign of “Just Say No”. With so many other programs and educational seminars around the United States, many people claim that Mrs. Reagan’s simple approach to “Just Say No” was a form that reduces the complexity of the drug issue far to much. The “Just Say No” courses have become a 12 session seminar helps over a few months for sixth – eighth graders. Because of this simplistic approach to a growing problem, Mrs. Reagan’s campaign slogan has become a joke to the modern pop culture that we now find ourselves living in.