Over the last four years, New York City has become a better place to live, work, and raise children. Cynics didn't believe that we could do it, but we have repeatedly shown that when we work together, work hard, innovate, and help people live independent and accountable lives, the city thrives.
Just as we have turned around the problems of crime, welfare reform, education reform, and economic development, we must now confront drug abuse. The stakes are high. If we do not successfully address drug abuse, it threatens to reverse the many gains we have made in reducing crime, improving education, and improving the quality of life of New Yorkers.
Of the three core components of our anti-drug strategy -- prevention and education, treatment, and law enforcement -- the future of New York City depends most critically on the prevention and education efforts aimed at our youth. Any successful anti-drug program must start by reaching children, the most vulnerable and impressionable members of society. A recent study indicated that when young people are successful in avoiding drugs before they turn sixteen, they will more than likely be free from the dangers of substance abuse for the rest of their lives.
Last year, the New York City Police Department and the Board of Education launched the nationally acclaimed DARE program in our city's public school system. Over 100 specially trained police officers teach kindergarten through sixth graders about the dangers of drug use as well as build the students' self-esteem so they are capable of resisting peer pressure to engage in drug use.
In their schools, children must feel safe from the fear and intimidation that are so closely connected to drug abuse. To this end, NYPD will expand its Drug Free School Zone program from 40 to 100 schools. In addition, the Safe Corridor program, which gives children additional protection as they walk to and from school, will be doubled, to involve 240 schools.
We are also increasing the number of BEACON schools operating throughout the city by 24 percent. These schools provide after-school and evening activities for youth and community. Statistics demonstrate that youth who participate in BEACON school programs have higher reading and math scores than their peers.
Funds will be allocated to expand successful mentoring programs for our city's youth to expose them to positive role models and encourage their development in successful careers. According to a recent study, mentored youth are 46% less likely to use drugs than other youth.
The NYPD will be given the resources necessary to expand the DARE program to after-school hours, and to couple it with the Gang Resistance Education Assistance Treatment Program. Both these programs foster greater understanding among youth as to the dangers of drugs and gang activity and provide structured activities between young people and police officers.
In coordination with City Hall, the New York City Housing Authority will implement an after-school drug prevention program aimed at youth in our City's public housing developments.
Working with the Board of Education and the Parent Associations in each of the public schools, we will undertake an effort to implement an Anti-Drug Parent Network to bring parents together and make them aware of available drug counseling services in their neighborhoods.
These are only a few highlights of our coordinated anti-drug strategy. Drug abuse is one of New York City's -- and the nation's -- most difficult and complex problems, but we will rise to the challenge.