Troubling SHARP Surveys

On January 15th, 2011, Utah Eagle Forum held their annual convention and among the speakers was Pamela Smith, speaking on the use of SHARP surveys in our schools. I believe these surveys are being administered on March 10th around the state. I strongly recommend you watch the video here and read the material below before you allow your child to be subjected to this survey.  The video quality here isn’t the greatest, but the content is vital.

To see copies of the survey, go here: http://sharp.tooeleschools.org/Questions.aspx

Here’s some summary information provided by Pamela.

SHARP Survey

(Dept. of Education, Dept. of Human Resources, Dept. of  Health)

Intended for 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th graders.  4 major concerns are as follows:
*  Introduces or educates children for drug use by giving a recipe card for names, use, and how to obtain drugs.  (See pg. 4 of survey)
*  Causes children to question their own family values: Is something wrong with their family if they answer yes to any of these questions?
*  Assumes guilt: children must declare their innocence over 150 times
*  Parental Concerns:  survey touches on the 8 areas protected by Utah Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – (code sections 53A-13-301, 53A-13-302) which requires parental consent if it touches on ANY ONE of these areas.

There is no way to reach the individual students who might have personal struggles because the data is gathered anonymously.  Monies collected from the SHARP data must be used to fund (usually federal) programs attached to it for prevention- schools are not at liberty to use those funds at their discretion..  Monies spent cannot reach the individual child for liability purposes, so a blanket approach to reach the neglected one is at the expense of all.

The 8 protected areas where a school may NOT administer a survey (especially when the purpose or evident intent is to cause a child to reveal information even if it is anonymous) concerning the student’s family or any family member are:

  1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parent;
  2. Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family;
  3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
  4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
  5. Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships;
  6. Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
  7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or parents; or
  8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.

In order to allow a child to participate, written notice must be sent home two weeks prior to a survey, activity, curriculum lesson, etc… if it touches on the protected areas.  (A notice and signature are needed each time educational activities fall within the 8 listed protected areas.  One signature at the first of the year to cover all evaluations, surveys and curriculum doesn’t meet the intent of the law.)

Parents are under no obligation to give consent. If you do not give consent, the survey may not be administered to your child.

  1. A “valid consent” can be sent back to the school acknowledging that the student may reveal information; or the school may ask questions or teach content that falls within the 8 protected areas. This requires a parental signature.
  2. You may request further information: Who has access to the data collected?  How will the information be used or taught?  How can a parent review information or curriculum?
  3. You may request your child not participate in the evaluation, survey, curriculum, etc.
  4. If you do nothing and a “valid consent” was not obtained, then the evaluation, survey or curriculum may not be given or taught.

Pamela also informed me that there are so many programs being used in all of our schools that are not as comprehensive as the SHARP but are still invasive and touch on these protected areas. Most parents are completely unaware of these programs because they are called ‘prevention’ programs, and are titled: All-Stars, Empowered You, etc… I had no idea what this was until I heard Pamela’s presentation.

Protect your children. Please watch the video above to understand the psychological effects of this survey being administered. Please pass this on to all the parents you know.

9 Responses to “Troubling SHARP Surveys”

  • jmomma4:

    I received a permission slip for my 9th grader to take this survey. I asked him what it was about. He was vague, of course, as he did not really listen too closely. So I asked the teacher and his response was, “oh it’s not a big deal. Just a survey about drug and alcohol abuse.” I said my child would not be participating. Then I reiterated that to my son after we left the classroom. I told him it would not be appropriate for him to take a survey given by the “secular” world about drugs and alcohol. We talked some more about it. I am very happy that I was able to see through this one without any help. Kudos to all the other parents who see through the constant garbage as sometimes they are very sneaky.

  • My 10th grader attends a charter school in Orem. I went to the school and read the survey a few weeks before the test was administered. I asked some pointed questions (to which I received unsatisfactory answers) and expressed some specific objections. I could tell the principal was a little uncomfortable because he didn’t know the answers but he and the secretary started thinking. Of course, my son did not take the test, and he said that relatively few students did. I am glad to have this excellent information which I will now forward to the school. I am not through asking questions, like “Is it required for schools to participate?” and “Who designed the test?” Etc.

  • Dbags73:

    I wondered if you could explain further what is so damaging about this test. (I am not saying it isn’t) My son brought up a good discussion after I talked to him about the test and so we looked at the sample questions…..

  • Vash the Stampede:

    Great presentation!

    @Dbags73: Basically it’s a damaging survey because: first, it’s a “recipe card” for kids, meaning it introduces new ideas they would not have thought to try otherwise; second, it invades family privacy (one evil conclusion of which: Hitler Youth were so conditioned that they would turn in their parents for disagreeing with Government policy); and lastly the survey presumes guilt in direct contradiction to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” which is a pillar of the original U.S. Constitution and legal code. Your question will be answered more thoroughly if you watch the embedded movie. It’s a little long, but not too bad.

  • Emily brent:

    I think you should let him take the survey and if he feels comfortable with answering those questions it would be alright to let him take it. If he feels strongly you should let himthe biggest part in it is thT they must openly admit to things that may be hard for him. I think you should allow him to.

  • B. L. Harrison:

    I am a parent of four and I work in the field of human services. I use to think soely like these parents and Pamela Smith until I started working in this type of work. While I agree it is the parent’s sole responsibility to teach, nurture and inform matters on matters of development, religion, education or otherwise to their children; I counclude that it is impossible for parents in this age to provide all of the necessary resources needed to do this alone. We are parents! We are not experts in everything. I think the right approach is to look into the source, educate yourself on the SHARP, talk to experts, discuss things with your children, then make an informned decision. I am LDS, I love the church, the gospel is true, but the church (our members) and all people need help to the things we’ve been asked by our leaders…”Teach correct principles and let them govern themselves.” The SHARP is only a tool to assess the level of risk a child may have simply by living in a certain community or going to a certain school. You parents are great to take the initiative to look into this, but Pamela didn’t tell the whole story and some of her references were misplaced. For more information on the SHARP, go to http://www.dsamh.utah.gov, go to map of Local Substance Abuse Authorities and contact your local health education professionals.

  • Vash the Stampede:

    I really don’t mean any offense, I hop you don’t take this personally; but since you posted in public, you’ve demanded a public response. My silence would have appeared to be an endorsement.

    The quote to “teach correct principles and let them govern themselves” was NEVER meant by the author as an excuse for bad choices. One of the greatest enemies of Truth is relativism (where there are no “wrong” answers, where distorted virtues such as “tolerance” or “equality” reign supreme). The only way to be “wrong” in a relativist world is to advocate absolute truth, which in other words is to claim exclusivity (e.g. “only through Christ can we be saved”). But God IS absolute; therefore all other truth is too. While you (and everyone else) ARE free to choose wrongly, you cannot escape the reality that bad choices are inferior to good ones. Your attempt to wrest the above statement reveals your lack of understanding of it’s true meaning and context.

    “I counclude that it is impossible for parents in this age to provide all of the necessary resources needed to do this alone. We are parents! We are not experts in everything.”

    This idea is wrong and disturbing. I understand that no parent can get a PhD in every subject; but that doesn’t mean a good parent can’t be responsible for the moral and secular education of their children. Not every family can be ideal, with a stay at home mom and an involved, righteous dad; but that shouldn’t mean we should be so quick to settle for less. To put it bluntly, what you are inferring is that parents should outsource their divine responsibilities because they are incapable of fulfilling them; that is not only WRONG, it is also out of line with your own professed (LDS) beliefs. You’re right, without God, parents are far more likely to be inadequate in providing for their children’s needs. But God stands ready and willing to help any parent who will “ask in faith, believing he/she will receive.” And with God, all things are possible.

    “I think the right approach is to look into the source, educate yourself on the SHARP, talk to experts, discuss things with your children, then make an informned decision.”

    How about: be diligent, concerned, loving and at-home parents; pray to God for answers; obtain those answers by obedience to predicated laws; then make an INSPIRED decision. Not an “informed” decision. Again, while this is ideal, and therefore sometimes not realistic for everyone in the real world, why not strive for the ideal rather than settle for inferior alternatives?

    I wish you the best in your parenting endeavors. A parent myself, I know it can be difficult at times! I know I am inadequate without God’s help, but I also know He won’t forsake me if I put my trust in Him.

    What I believe the root of the problem with your post is: you believe the SHARP survey is neutral. This is impossible. What Pamela has uncovered, and what every parent can and should independently verify, is that rather than being beneficial or even neutral (as school officials and SHARP salespeople claim), the SHARP survey is a direct assault on parental rights, it is harmful to good children, and useless in helping troubled children. Therefore, we should do all within our power to shield our own children first (opt out, don’t sign permission slips), then protect children in our community (go to school-board meetings and educate/remove it at the county level), and thereby set an example for good for neighboring counties and communities to follow.

    And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them. -Ephesians 5:11

  • Pamela:

    As a parent of 5 and now a grandparent, I am grateful to have many options and resources at my disposal to help in the most important responsibility of my life; that of being a parent. While I am not an ‘expert’ according to the ‘experts,’ I believe that my field of expertise far exceeds that of any ‘expert’ when it comes to assessing what is best for my own children. Through my own experiences, I have learned that I don’t have to know everything to be a qualified parent. Even the experts would agree with that.

    The biggest concern for parents with the SHARP Survey was that they were not given adequate information in order to make an informed decision. Most parents were not aware of what types of questions their children would be exposed to, nor the way drug/alcohol/substances/suicide/etc. information would be provided and encouraged in the survey. Because many of the questions are leading, it caused youth to question themselves and their family situations. (The wording of the gang questions immediately followed by leading negative family questions were very disturbing to me personally.) These reasons have caused great concern to many parents . Additionally, there are many professional experts who have expressed these same concerns about the SHARP Survey.

    Whatever intention the SHARP Survey has to “assess the level of risk a child may have,” it is the law that schools must inform parents just what the “tool” is. This is done by making the survey available for review, and then having the parent give written consent to have their child take the survey. The law has not been followed by many school districts in this regard.