Some School Board Leaders Oppose Youth Risk Behavior Survey

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va -- The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is standard fare for the Office on Youth. They have been giving the survey every two years for the past 16 years to students at both Staunton and Waynesboro schools.

“It was a way to measure the behavior of youth, in real risky behavior in youth,” said Carol Blair, the director of the Office on Youth. “It asks about 90 questions, anywhere from helmet use, seat belt use, do you have enough food in the house.”

The survey asks about things young people do and are usually willing to admit to if their identities are kept anonymous.

Students at Augusta County schools used to get the survey, but that changed in 2004 when the Office on Youth did not receive usable information.

Now, they are trying to revisit the county to get better information overall.

“We have reported Staunton youth do this, Waynesboro youth do this and not mentioned they county. Really it implies the county youth are doing the same thing. Which they very well may not be.”

The problem comes because some of the Augusta County School Board members worry about the survey's sexually based questions, specifically for seventh graders. One school board member, who would not go on camera, said that the questions are just inappropriate, but Blair said these are issues affecting that age group.

“Everybody's entitled to their opinion. I've worked in this field for 21 years and I've seen a lot of seventh graders get pregnant. I've seen it get worse. I think the pressures, there are kids younger and younger being forced to grow up.”

The Augusta County School Board leaders have not made a decision on whether they will allow the Office on Youth to conduct the survey.

Office on Youth leaders said the board might have reservations because of how the results may make the county schools look.


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