Parents upset over ‘personal’ survey offered at school

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (Feb. 26, 2015)-- Some parents in Noblesville aren't happy about a survey their middle schoolers filled out at school. They want to know who's behind the optional survey that they said got way too personal.

"They crossed the line when they entered the home," said Michelle Bracewell.

Bracewell said some of the questions her seventh grade daughter answered were invasive. Her daughter took the survey on her iPad at Noblesville West Middle School.

The survey asked about drug and alcohol use, which Bracewell said was understandable, but she became bothered when she found out what other statements the survey solicited.

It asked for student responses to statements like, "People in my family have serious arguments," and, "People in my family often insult or yell at each other."

"Those are personal questions, and if I want people to know what's going on inside my home, I'll let them know," said Bracewell.

Bracewell said her child's instructor told the class the survey was optional.

Other parents were concerned, too.

Comments popped up on Facebook, with some parents saying they are very upset over an "issue of rights," and others calling the survey "data mining, and a 100% violation of privacy and trust."

"We ask these questions for purposes of public health," said Ruth Gassman, Executive Director of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center.

Gassman says 150 school corporations across the state voluntarily agree to the Indiana Youth Survey, which has been offered across the state for more than twenty years. The survey's offered in sixth through twelfth grades, and Gassman said each school decides which grades in which they'll distribute the survey.

The data is used to tailor drug and alcohol awareness programs, some of the questions are used to probe risk factors in the home.

"These items are referred to ask risk and protective factors for alcohol, tobacco, and drug use," said Gassman.

But this year, in a pilot program, the IPRC asked students for their birthdate and initials, still optional, but parents claim that's an invasion of privacy, too.

"It'd be very easy to go back and look at a birthdate and initials and see who the child was," said Bracewell.

Gassman said that initial and birthdate information is not stored, instead it's used to assign a generic numerical identification number to track students' responses over a course of years.

A spokesperson for Noblesville Schools said the survey was made optionally available to middle school students.

FOX59 wanted to know if any teachers forced their classes to complete the survey. A spokesperson did not return our email or answer any of our follow up questions.

Click here to be directed to a sample copy of the sixth grade, and seventh through twelfth grade surveys. Rules from the IPRC state that students must be informed their participation is voluntary.


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