The McCreary Centre Society offers a video that explains its BC Adolescent Health Survey.

Survey questions about suicide and sex inappropriate for 12-year-olds, says parent

Abbotsford mom starts online petition over McCreary Centre Society’s Adolescent Health Survey

An Abbotsford mom has started an online petition against a controversial survey that asks students questions about topics such as suicidal thoughts and sexual activity.

The BC Adolescent Health Survey conducted by the McCreary Centre Society was distributed May 25 to Abbotsford students in Grades 7 to 12.

The survey is held province-wide every five years and addresses such as substance use; injury prevention behaviour; suicide and self-harm; sexual orientation and gender identity; sexual behaviour; thoughts about skills and the future; and extra-curricular activities.

The survey was a controversial issue in Abbotsford in 2007, when school trustees voted against participating in the 2008 survey, saying some questions might offend students and their parents and not be age-appropriate.

But the board of education voted to participate in the 2013 survey, saying it had changed since the previous one.

Mom Lisa Brandsma recently began an online petition, after she became aware that her 12-year-old son had completed the survey without her knowledge or consent.

She said that’s because the survey offers two forms of consent – passive (no parental/guardian signature required) and active (signature required) – and the school district opted for the former one.

Brandsma said a letter was sent home to parents to advise them of the survey, but no signature was required.

She said her son did not receive the letter. After she found out he had taken the survey, which is not available online, she tracked down a copy and found some of the questions “quite inappropriate” for 12-year-olds.

Among the questions she said she observed were: “How many times have you cut yourself?”, “How many times have you seriously considered killing yourself?” and “What kind of precautionary measures to prevent pregnancy did you take when you had sex: withdrawal (pulling-out method), none (same-sex partner)?”

Brandsma said these types of questions are not age-appropriate, and parents should have been given the option for their kids to be excluded.

“I’m very dissatisfied and frustrated that my son was given this survey without my consent,” she said.

Brandsma also says the survey should be available online for parents to read.

Her online petition – which she hopes to take Canada-wide – states that, in future, a parent/guardian signature should be required for students to participate in such surveys. Almost 450 people had signed the petition as of Friday morning.

But some parents responding to a Facebook post on the issue disagree with Brandsma, saying that parents might “freak out” about the content of the survey and refuse to let their kids participate. This could result in the loss of valuable information, one individual said.

Another person said kids probably would not be honest with their responses if they knew their parents were involved.

Kayla Stuckart, communications manager with the Abbotsford school district, said notification of this year’s survey and consent forms were sent home to families, allowing parents to opt out if they chose.

“The district will continue to review the distribution and administration procedures with Fraser Health to ensure that parents receive the information in a timely way to determine if the would like their child to participate in the survey or not,” she said.

Stuckart said the district chose to participate in the survey because “it is valuable for the development of provincial and local health and prevention initiatives for children and youth, helping many organizations recognize areas of strength and places that need additional attention.”

“The physical and emotional healht topics covered in the survey are complex, but we know that they are real issues in our society and warrant our attention,” she added.

The McCreary Centre Society says it uses results from the survey to highlight vulnerable student populations, monitor trends over time in school safety and “school connectedness,” identify emerging issues, and have students design and deliver innovative projects to address issues.

 

An online petition has begun over the controversial BC Adolescent Health Survey by the McCreary Centre Society.

Just Posted

Surrey motorcycle crash victim remembered for his ‘huge heart’

Conor Colton worked for the City of Surrey, according to family, before he died in a motorcycle crash on Aug. 16

LETTER: I’m sick of seeing trash everywhere I go in Surrey

Reader says he sees garbage on roads, garbage on sidewalks, garbage in parks and garbage at schools

Motorcycle deaths prompt safety warning from Cloverdale mother

Natalie White’s son died in an accident this June; she’s hoping other drivers won’t share his fate

Stolen-car report in Surrey leads police to guns, drugs at residence

‘This investigation and seizure highlight the importance of reporting property crime,’ police say

Harvie to fight for cashless casinos if elected Delta mayor

Former city manager says he’ll use casino revenue to pay for addiction services and city programs

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Date rapist left victims with ‘long-lasting, emotional scars,’ judge says

Klifford Kenyon of Abbotsford sentenced to additional two years in prison

Fire in barn that housed therapy horses has been confirmed an arson

Abbotsford Police Department is now investigating and seeks witnesses

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Most Read