Should 6th graders be taking school surveys about their sex life?

GROTON, Mass. — Dozens of parents went back and forth with the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee Wednesday night, giving their opinion on a sex survey given every year to middle and high school students, some as young as 11 years old.

“It took me 25 minutes to fill out,” said Anna Carney, a high school junior. “It just kept going.”

Students said questions started innocent and gradually got more invasive, with questions about sexual partners, condoms, frequency of oral sex, and pornography viewing.

“I just thought the questions were a little too invasive. If I had a kid, I wouldn’t want them answering, if I was at the age, I would feel uncomfortable,” said former student Hanna Axon. “I have no problem with the survey as a whole, a lot of the questions went just too far.”

The “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” is a joint effort between the school district and Emerson Hospital. Both entities said the findings are used to set school health and health promotion goals and curriculums and some parents agree.

“I’m also a pediatrician so it’s right up my alley,” said parent Brian Digiovanni. “That’s stuff that we talk about as a family and not addressing it is not an option. This is crucial data for epidemiologists to know about our youth. If you don’t talk about it, and we hope the kids aren’t doing it, that doesn’t seem like a good strategy.”

And getting everyone on board doesn’t seem likely.

“Could you imagine not knowing what oral sex was and going on the bus and Googling it and what you would get?” said one parent at the meeting. “This should be done in the pediatric office, that’s where it’ll be answered honestly.”

“Do you feel safe at your home? How many times a week do your parents drink? A lot of personal things that the school doesn’t need to know,” said Carney. “It’s not like it’s about safety it’s more like they want to know everything. I think it’s a little excessive and I don’t think it’s actually private. They say it’s anonymous but then they sent it to our school emails.”

The district says a third party looks at responses by codes and not student names and if truly concerned, parents can opt their kids out of the survey.

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