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

VIDEO: Santa Claus arrives at Surrey Memorial Hospital by helicopter, visits children

Jolly old elf made stops at five hospitals in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

Surrey Memorial patients receive gifts from hospital staff

‘What Matters to You’ wish campaign received $5,000 in funding for project

North Delta apartment development heading to public hearing

The proposed 188-home Scott and Nicholson was given first and second reading by council on Dec. 17

Dirty chapter of Surrey history detailed in book about Bridgeview’s sewage woes in ’70s

Surrey-raised author’s ‘Mudflat Dreaming’ chronicles Vander Zalm-era debates, and beyond

Surrey LRT decision ‘really sets White Rock back’: mayor

Walker says his focus now is making sure residents can access transit network

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Lower Mainland man receives apology after getting kicked out of library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Most Read