Parent FAQs

I Want To Know...

We know it can be difficult to make decisions on whether or not to allow your child(ren) to participate in a voluntary survey, especially if it contains questions that concern you. Because of this, we have taken the Illinois Youth Survey and broken it down into information tailored to you as a parent.


1. What is the Illinois Youth Survey and why should my child participate?

The IYS is a statewide student survey on substance abuse and related issues. It is conducted through schools with grade levels 8, 10, and 12 every even year in the spring. With the funding of the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) at the University of Illinois now coordinates the survey at no charge to schools throughout the state.

The data collected through the IYS or any group survey depends on widespread participation. The higher percentage of students who participate, the more accurate results for the school will be. Improved knowledge helps schools provide more effective solutions to prevent youth substance use and related problems.

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2. Will my child’s answers be identified to their teachers or peers?

Individual student confidentiality is a core principle of the IYS. The identity of the youth who participate is not collected. Full instructions accompany the survey to help educators create an environment that protects privacy and promotes truthful responses.

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3. How much class time will be used to administer the survey?

The IYS can be administered during one full class period. Students who do not wish to participate and/or whose parents opt them out of participating will be given a quiet task to complete. Students will not be penalized for not participating.

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4. What questions are asked on the IYS?

The Illinois Youth Survey has 8 sections including: demographics, community, drug use, physical and other injury, individual/peer, nutrition/fitness, school, and family. You can view a copy of all questions on the survey or by individual sections by visiting our survey content page.

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5. Do I have to do anything to allow my child to participate?

Parents will be sent a parent notification form informing them about the survey and allowing them to opt their child(ren) out of participation. The form will only need to be returned if you do not want your child to participate.

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6. What if I want my child to participate but also skip certain questions or sections on the survey?

Students can skip any question or section on the survey that they do not wish to answer. If you would like your child to skip an entire section or question, be sure to inform your student of your wishes. Remember that no one at the school or CPRD will know which student answered each survey.

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7. How will you know if students are being honest?

There are safeguards in our analysis of the survey that tend to weed out any over-reporting of use. Under-reporting has not been a major problem so long as youth are assured that their responses cannot be tracked back to them and that adults conducting the survey present it seriously and in a manner conducive to student cooperation. Some youth enjoy completing the survey, but even those who don’t will usually be truthful if the survey is administered as suggested.

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8. My child participated in the IYS, what should I do now?

It is recommended that parents use the administration of the IYS to open a dialogue with their children regarding substance abuse and the related issues that are on the survey. Please visit our “Talk to your child” page for tips on how to start communicating.

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9. How can I view results to the survey?

County level and statewide information is available on our website for the IYS conducted since 2006. County data will be available in the summer or early fall of the following school year, whereas statewide data will be available the following spring. School administration receives their local school report. Contact your school principal for more information.

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10. What is the data collected used for?

The administration of the IYS has two major goals, the first of which is to supply local data to schools and school districts throughout Illinois. These local reports provide critical information to school administrators, prevention professionals, and community members as they work to address substance abuse issues in their communities. The second goal is to provide a scientific estimate of health and social indicators for the state of Illinois. The Illinois Youth Survey statewide report presents findings based on data gathered January through June of the survey year from students in the random sample of schools.

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11. Will my child's personal information be supplied to any other state/federal authority (ex: IRS, INS, TANF, etc.) and linked to my household?

The purpose of the survey is not to point out individual students with problem behaviors or to single out families, but to have a broad idea of how students at your school/district/county/community or statewide think and act with regard to various health related topics. We do not collect individual names, addresses, social security numbers, student identification numbers, or any other state/national identification. There is no possibility that any agency will be able to link your child’s responses to your child or household.

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