DARE to be You

Program Goals

DARE to be You (DTBY) is a multilevel prevention program aimed at high-risk families with children ages 2–5. The program is designed to lower children’s risk of future substance abuse and other high-risk activities by improving aspects of parenting that contribute to children’s resiliency. DTBY combines three supporting aspects—educational activities for children, strategies for the parents or teachers, and environmental structures—to enable program participants to learn and practice the desired skills.

Originally, the community-based DTBY curriculum concentrated on youths, their parents, and community professionals. The training component was aimed toward the multiagency community teams who provided services to youth. The parent training of the current DTBY program evolved from the community trainings.

The objectives of the parent–child workshops include improving self-efficacy and self-esteem; increasing internal locus of control; enhancing decision-making skills through effective reasoning; mastering effective child-rearing strategies, particularly communication skills; learning effective stress management; learning developmental norms to reduce frustration with children’s behavior and increase empathy; and strengthening peer support.

DARE is an acronym for the key constructs of the program:

Decision-making, reasoning skills, and solving problems

Assertive communication and social skills

Responsibility (internal locus of control/attributions) and role models

Esteem, efficacy, and empathy

DTBY seeks to improve parent and child protective factors by improving parents’ sense of competence and satisfaction with being parents, providing them with knowledge and understanding of a multilevel, primary prevention program that targets Native American, Hispanic, African American, and white parents and their preschool children.

Program Theory

Each of the program components is based on ecological models of human development, social cognitive theory, and theories of reasoning about moral and social problems. Children are part of several different environments and different circles of influence. Interactions with other people, society, and culture all affect the development of the child. Research in development suggests that a child’s development is best served when there are strong supportive links between and among all environments and when the people in these environments share common values regarding development (Miller–Heyl, MacPhee, and Fritz 2001).

Program Components

The program includes a preschool activity book for children ages 2–5 and developmentally appropriate curricula for children in kindergarten through second grade, in grades 3–5, and in grades 6–8. High school students use a curriculum that encourages them to become teachers or leaders within their communities.

The parent–child workshops offer parents, youths, and families training and activities for teaching self-responsibility, personal and parenting efficacy, problem-solving and decision-making skills, communication and social skills, stress management, and strengthening peer support. Sessions are ideally given in 2½-hour increments over 10–12 weeks and include a 10- to 30-minute joint activity for parents and children to practice skills learned in the session.

After completing the program, parents are welcome to attend annual reinforcement workshops. These boosters are given with a minimum of two series of four 2-hour sessions and are designed to enhance skills learned without duplicating previous activities. The boosters are intended to foster supportive networks and to consolidate the skills gained from DTBY.

Additional Information

DARE to Be You is not affiliated with the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.

Intervention ID

2 to 5


Study 1

Child Rearing Practices

Miller–Heyl, MacPhee, and Fritz (1998) found mixed results on measures of child-rearing practices. Scores of DARE to be You (DTBY) intervention parents on harsh punishment, effective discipline, and limit setting increased significantly through the second follow-up period, while control parents scores remained the same. There was an increase in communication for intervention parents; however, it was only significant at the 1-year follow-up. No significant effects were found for autonomy and rational guidance.

Child Outcomes

DTBY intervention parents reported a significant increase in child development and a significant decrease in oppositional behavior over the 2-year follow-up, compared with the self-reports of the control parents. These changes in outcomes, while showing a treatment effect, could also be explained by child maturation over time. No changes were found on dependency or children’s social competencies. There was a significant decrease in problem behavior as reported by intervention parents at the first follow-up, but this disappeared by the 2-year follow-up.

Parent Self-Esteem

There was a significant increase on self-esteem and self-efficacy for intervention parents, compared with control parents. Intervention parents reported a significant increase in self-perceived confidence in the parental role and a significant increase on two different measures of satisfaction with parental role.

Locus of Control

Overall, the program made little impact on locus of control. At the first follow-up, intervention parents showed a significant decrease in the belief that chance (or fate) controls outcomes (compared with the control group parents), but this change was not significant at the 2-year follow-up. No significant differences were found between groups on internal control or the belief that powerful others control outcomes.

Attributions/Reasoning Skills

Parents in the intervention group attributed their difficulty in coping with their children’s behavior significantly less to ‘lack of effort’ through the 2-year follow-up, compared with control group parents. Also at the 2-year follow-up, parents in the DTBY intervention group attributed ‘lack of ability’ and ‘child blame’ significantly less than control parents. There was no significant difference between groups in attributing their difficulty coping to the task or situation that was presented.


There was no significant difference between groups on measures of stress, as they both increased over time. The intervention group approached significance on stress toward increased education and income at the 1-year follow-up, but this dissipated by the 2-year follow-up.

Social Support

Satisfaction with support was significantly higher for the intervention parents than the control parents at the 1-year follow-up, but not at the 2-year follow-up. No significant differences between groups were found for size of the support network (which is relied on for emotional and instrumental functions, such as advice or babysitting), frequency of contact and closeness to members of the network, or connectivity (how many people in the network know one another).

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