EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah State Board of Education drops support for risk prevention survey

Jun 8, 2022, 2:04 PM
The Utah State Board of Education building. Utah schools give out a risk prevention survey every tw...
The Utah State Board of Education building in Salt Lake City is pictured on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Kristin Murphy/Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY –The Utah State Board of Education recently pulled support for a risk prevention survey used in schools.

The Student Health and Risk Prevention survey— or SHARP survey– is given every two years to 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th graders in Utah.

The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, or DSAMH, designed the survey along with research institute Bach-Harrison.

“The survey was designed to measure adolescent substance use, anti-social behavior, and the risk and protective factors that predict these adolescent problem behaviors,” according to the DSAMH website.

The 120-question survey has been used since 2003 — with the Board of Education’s support — to ask kids about drug use, their commitment to school and mental health. 

But the Board is pulling support after a lengthy discussion in their latest meeting.

Board Member Natalie Cline said she is concerned the 120 questions are actually educating kids on how to access drugs.

“My concern is that we’re actually educating kids in how to use drugs, what drugs are available, where to find them, and planting the idea of how to use them.”

Cline added, “I don’t know that it’s helping as much as it’s hurting.”

But others on the Board expressed concern that stopping the survey would mean they’d lose all the data they’ve been able to gather for years on things like vape use.

Board member Scott Hansen said,”I agree, these are really sensitive questions, I don’t like some of them. But if not this, how else do we get the information we need?”

The individual school districts have been the deciding factor in distributing the actual test. Parents also have to give permission for students to participate.

The Board’s decision to pull its support won’t change the way the test is distributed.

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Utah State Board of Education drops support for risk prevention survey