Iowa Youth Survey Coming to Your Child’s School in October


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The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) asked districts to administer the Iowa Youth Survey again this year.  Individual districts can decide if they want to give the survey to students. The survey is given to students in 6th, 8th and 11th grade.  What is of concern to many parents is the questions being asked.  They include topics such as what your child eats, whether your child skipped school, had behavior problems, whether your child has consumed alcohol and how much, tobacco use, drug use, gambling, feelings of helplessness, nervousness, thoughts of suicide, whether the child has made a plan to commit suicide, bullying questions, access to guns, questions about sex and more.  Many of these are very personal questions and to ask them on a survey is risky.  What ideas are we planting in a student’s head?  What responsibility does the school or the IDPH take for students who, by the power of suggestion, take what is on the survey and look into it further? There are 4 questions asking students about killing themselves including one on whether they have made a plan to kill themselves. The survey also has the potential to normalize these topics and desensitize students even more than they already are.

The purpose of the survey is “to gather useful information for local and state planners about the attitudes and experiences of Iowa students. Survey information spotlights emerging trends and needs that help determine local and state health promotion and prevention priorities for subsequent years.” – (source: Iowa Youth Survey Letter).  There is no mention of the effect the survey may have on the individual child however in the instructions to survey facilitators,  they are told to notify the school counselor if a student appears distressed during the survey.    Students also may opt to NOT take the survey at any time during the process so even if the parent does not opt them out, the student may opt themselves out.  (source:Iowa Youth Survey Facilitator Handout)

Parents do have the ability to opt their child out but they must complete a form.  Opting out of the survey will not opt a child out of the other students reacting to the survey by talking about the questions with their peers.  A survey with all these juicy questions will surely be a hot topic of conversation between students since math and history are not nearly as riveting as questions about sex, drugs and suicide.

This link provides quite a bit of information on the survey including the details on why the survey is given, actual survey questions, the facilitator guide for survey, contact information at the IDPH and more.

Here is the list of schools that have registered for the survey this year (we just learned that Ankeny Community Schools and Adel-DeSoto-Minburn Schools will not be participating).

Update: Des Moines Public Schools is no longer giving the Iowa Youth Survey for 2014. Source:


  1. Um, but can we ask to see a birth certificate or other ID, or whether the student is in the country legally?

  2. Robert (Bob) Young says:

    I’m liberal, so I live in a real and risky world. You know, seeing the world as it really is without fluff. Others think, if I’m not exposed to all the icky stuff in the world, my kids will grow up good and protected. Healthy protection is good and being enlightened is a better response to my way of thinking, that requires thought and action to give kids a protective awareness. ie: don’t get into a car with a stranger; not every one is like you in caring.
    So, to be safe looking outside the cacoon of childhood protection, there grows a healthy adolescent who can think and decern their own comfort level, by allowing a growing awareness an informed choice for life, which is supported by their family values, that have been already and lovingly placed on board.

    • They aren’t giving helpful information. They aren’t giving any information at all. They are asking intrusive questions because someone wrote a grant proposal and some other bureaucrat approved to fund it. It’s one of those ways to make a living that really benefits no one but the people living off it.

  3. This is another progressive/liberal unconstitutional takeover of our schools. Do you want your child answering questions about whether they feel suicidal, sex, and drugs?

  4. Considering these surveys are given to children as 10 years old, the questions are highly inappropriate. It is not the job of the school or government to decide when and what a child should be exposed to – that is the purview of the parent. Not all parents believe it is a good thing to expose kids at every age to every nasty tidbit this world has to offer. Cocoons serve a purpose – to protect the youth until they are mature enough to fly. Only parents should determine the appropriate timing of that, not a government employee.
    The school has one job for which I pay a crapload in taxes for: to educate our kids so they have knowledge of history, math, literature, language, music, science, etc. Considering that they have yet to fully master that, perhaps they should leave the moral & worldview development to the parents where it belongs.

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