School Health Survey Deemed ‘Too Personal’ by Indiana Parents

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Parents living in a small town in Indiana are up in arms over the questions asked of their children on a survey taken while at school.

Although participation was voluntary, the survey, given to middle and high school students in Noblesville, Indiana, asked for initials and birthdates of the children and included questions many consider to be personal, including statements like, “People in my family have serious argument” and “People in my family often insult or yell at each other.”

The questions continued, asking students as young as 12 years old if they felt “hopeless,” or if they had ever “made a plan” to commit suicide.

In terms of drug and alcohol use, the survey asked students at what age they began to use items like cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, Vivoxiline and prescription drugs.

While the surveys have been completed at the school for years concerning alcohol and drug use, this is the first year that the questions became too personal for many parents as a pilot program took place.

“Those are personal questions, and if, you know, I want people to know what’s going on inside my home, I’ll let them know,” Mother of a seventh grader at Noblesville West Middle School, Michelle Bracewell said.

Other parents took to Facebook, calling the survey an “issue of rights,” while others called it “data mining, and a 100% violation of privacy and trust.”

When asked about the purpose behind the survey, Ruth Gassman, Executive Director of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, said it was taken for “public health.”  Gassman added that the questions “ask risk and protective factors for alcohol, tobacco and drug use,” with additional questions to probe for risk factors at home.

She continued to say that 150 schools across the state voluntarily participate in the Indiana Youth Survey, which has been taken in schools throughout the state for the last 20 years.  Offered to students in grades six through twelve, it is up to each school to decide what age group to distribute the survey to.

She added that the initials and birthdates are not recorded.  They are only used to assign each student a generic numerical identification code that tracks each students’ response over time.

However, the Biz Pac referred to the questionnaire as “creepy,” and that it encourages children to “tattle on their parents and insinuate things about neighbors.”