GROTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Parents in Groton are voicing their outrage over a survey with sexual questions that were given to middle school students.
“So during the past 30 days, on how many days did you look at pornographic material, either in electronic or any other format?” a concerned resident read from the survey during a meeting with school officials. “These are questions on the survey for 11 year olds.”
Most of the questions in the 72-page document were about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students’ mental health, but it also asked about students’ sexual behavior, including how often they watch pornography or have oral sex.
“After reading through the questions, it was clear that my family and more specifically my daughter had been violated,” concerned parent Corey Brock said.
Another parent said, “It is an invasion of privacy. That is clearly what it is.”
Groton-Dunstable Regional School District Superintendent Laura Chesson says the school district has teamed up with Emerson Hospital for decades for the “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” and that the hospital came up with the questions, not the district.
But Emerson Hospital said in a statement that the survey questions are not created by the hospital and are based on a Centers for Disease Control YRBS that is used by schools across the country. A local steering committee of representatives from each participating school district discusses, develops, and approves every survey question.
“As a participant in the March 2021 YRBS, GDRSD (Groton-Dunstable Regional School District) representatives attended committee meetings where every question in the YRBS was carefully reviewed,” the statement read. “There are many opportunities during the survey creation process for questions to be modified or deleted. GDRSD, along with the other participating school districts, approved all of the questions in the YRBS that students received.”
Chesson added that despite parents’ concerns, the answers were anonymous and similar surveys have been conducted before.
“The questions are very close to the CDC questions that are done at the national level and we provided them with that feedback,” Chesson said.
She continued that moving forward, parents will be notified by email and a letter from the principal regarding future surveys with questions being available to view ahead of time, giving parents more time to opt out.
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