PARENTS in Kinross-shire have expressed dismay at a survey which asks children as young as nine whether they’ve drunk alcohol, taken drugs or carried knives.
The survey, the first of its kind in the UK, has been carried out in schools with the aim of improving the wellbeing of children and young people.
Perth and Kinross Council has joined forces with the Social Research Unit in Dartington to pilot the project - called ‘Evidence2Sucess’ – which was devised in America.
There are two separate surveys - one for pupils aged nine to 13, and the other for pupils aged 14-plus.
In them, the youngsters are asked about their drug-taking, smoking, drinking and sexual habits, and even about their parents’ relationship.
But some parents have reacted in horror, saying that some of the questions were ‘completely inappropriate’ for schoolchildren.
One mother from Milnathort, who didn’t wish to be named, told the Fife Herald: “My 12-year-old niece was quite upset when she was asked if she’d ever had anal sex. She told me she and her friends stopped doing the questionnaire then.
“My 10-year-old son said they were asked if they’d taken drugs at school - he told me he thought that was ‘a stupid question’, because what ‘10-year-old takes drugs in school?’.
She continued: “The damage has been done and I deliberately didn’t ask the kids too much.
“My biggest worry was that they had been asked these questions, but with no moral guidance or discussion about right and wrong. So do they think that these sort of things are acceptable for children?”
Perth and Kinross Council stressed that there was no obligation for pupils to take part in the survey and that all responses are being treated confidentially.
The local authority’s website says: “The Evidence2Success model engages whole communities in addressing health concerns early and focuses on the underlying causes that harm or promote health and development before problems become difficult to remedy and costs escalate.
“The survey has been designed so that pupils can comment on topics such as education, emotional health, drugs and alcohol and relationships.
“Together these surveys will provide the council and its partners in the Evidence2Success project with a unique insight into the types of services that need to be provided to support children and young people to grow up happy, healthy and safe.
“ In particular, the survey will gather information about children’s wellbeing in relation to areas that we know are important at different ages. This will help to plan services that can provide earlier support for children and contribute to preventing future issues such as poor achievement at school or anti-social/criminal behaviour.”