Trumbull Public Schools in conjunction with TPAUD, Trumbull’s Prevention Partnership Against Underage Drinking and Drugs, recently administered their biennial youth survey which was intended for students from 7th grade through 12th grade.
Students are assured that the survey is anonymous, IP addresses are not being tracked, and that answers are confidential and cannot be traced back to individual students. Furthermore, grades are not impacted by any answers on the survey. After all of the assurances are described, students are then told that they can choose not to complete any portion of the survey.
The school district emailed parents two weeks before the survey was administered to let them know how to opt children out of the survey, but some parents complained they had missed the email and didn't understand the invasive nature of the questions that would be asked.
The survey directions students received indicated that some of the questions asked about "substance use patterns, mental health issues and relationships with friends and family." Students are told that if any of the topics bring up uncomfortable or distressing feelings, "know that there are adults you can reach out to for support including your school counselor, school social worker, school psychologist or teacher" and that their "school community is here to help". Curiously, the directions do not suggest parents as a source for help.
You can find the complete survey starting on page 39 in the October 10th BOE meeting notes.
What's on the survey?
Students were asked whether they had adults "other than your parent/guardian" that they could trust to talk about important things.
They were asked about underage drinking.
They were asked whether their parent or guardian has clear rules discouraging gambling (i.e., sports betting, poker, lottery, scratch off tickets, online games), communicating on text, sending or posting inappropriate pictures, playing video games, and using social media.
They were also asked about parent/guardian rules discouraging children from drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking cigarettes, using tobacco and nicotine, using marijuana and/or using prescription drugs in order to get high.
Students were asked about their mental health, and if they felt sad, depressed or lonely.
Students were also asked if they were male, female, transgender, non-binary, not sure or preferred not to respond, and what their sexual orientation is.
Some of the questions were aiming to better understand parental attitudes toward drugs and alcohol, like "How wrong do your parents or guardians feel it would be for YOU to drink, smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, etc."
Especially for younger students, like those aged 12-13 for instance, parents expressed concern that the survey actually planted ideas into their children's heads and introduced them to new terms like "dabbing" and "using waxes or concentrates".
Students were also questioned on where they obtained drugs and alcohol.
High schoolers were specifically asked about how extensively they drank.
TPAUD receives a grant to conduct the survey, which is aligned with other surveys administered in the region, including Fairfield, Darien and Greenwich.
Parents in Greenwich have also complained about the invasive nature of the survey questions, as well as the fact that the survey plants ideas into their children's heads.
If parents want to avoid any unwanted surveys, they can use this opt-out form from the Family Institute of Connecticut.