Henrico parents concerned with 2021 Virginia Youth Survey being given out to some students

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Some parents in Henrico are concerned over a survey heading out to some students next month asking questions about their student’s drug use, sexual behaviors, and even gambling.

Six schools in Henrico were selected to take part in the Virginia Department of Health’s 2021 Virginia Youth Survey, a questionnaire that comes out every other year and is designed to help students and improve health education.

The program is paid through a five-year grant provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth.

Students in grades 6-12 are randomly selected to take part in the program and can choose to not take the survey if they do not want to. Students who do answer the questions will remain anonymous.

Heather Alexander, a parent of a student in Henrico, says she was notified of the program earlier this month and after looking at the questions she feels that families should want to volunteer for the survey and not be selected.

”We as parents felt that we should have definitely been told about the survey and we should have been able to review it and rather to opt-in than rather opt-out,” Alexander said.

One question asks students during the past 12 months, on how many days did you carry a gun? Another question asks students if an adult or person 5 years older than you ever made you do sexual things that you did not want to do?

In a letter signed by state superintendent James Lane, he explains how the program can help set up grant funding and create preventative programs.

Alexander says because of how inappropriate she feels the questions are, her student will not participate and feels those discussions should be left between students and their guidance counselors.

“We do this today so I don’t think they need to invade all of us parents and families’ privacy in collecting this type of data that way,” Alexander said.

A spokesperson with the school division says the district is mandated to give out the survey and that any concerns with the program should be brought up with the Virginia Department of Health.

NBC12 reached out to the department of health but has yet to hear back.

More information on the survey can be found here.

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