I don't take much notice of surveys that have asked children their responses to a number of questions and I'll tell you why: when I was in school we took part in one.
We were 12 at the time, and a woman from a university set us an anonymous questionnaire. It was fine by us, since it meant not studying English for a whole period. It was also fine by the teacher, who got to relax for an hour. We busily started scribbling away filling in our answers to the questions. I remember them being fairly innocuous at first - do you own a bike? and that kind of thing.
The faster ones among us started giggling though as we got further into the survey, and were confronted by questions on sex and drugs. Looking back on it, this was really what the survey was about, and our responses to the warm-up questions weren't even going to be looked at.
Being 12 year olds, we started nudging and winking at each other, and the potential for fun was immediately obvious to us. The questionnaires were anonymous therefore there would be no comebacks from any figures of authority. Despite not even starting puberty, I was apparently having sex up to 20 times a week, presumably afterwards having one of my 20 cigarettes a week. That's if I actually had a pupil in my head, which was doubtful because of all the cocaine I was sniffing and dope I was smoking.
We compared notes in the playground afterwards and had a good laugh about it, and then promptly forgot all about it...until 3 months later when the Daily Record ran a Shock! Horror! story about how wayward the youngsters of the early 80s were, based on a certain survey.
The incident taught me a few things about how the media likes a juicy story that either demonises kids or shows them as stupid. It also taught me never to trust surveys of kids. So I didn't take much notice a few months ago when a Shock! survey revealed that kids today didn't know where most of their food comes from. Perhaps I was too hasty in dismissing the results. This exchange from Bean Sprouts first had me giggling, then had me banging my head off the desk:
"Why are you collecting all these apples? You can't eat them."
"Yes you can eat them. Who says you can't?"
"They're not the same as real apples from the shops."
"They're exactly the same as that"
"But they're not from the shops"
"Where do you think the apples in the shops come from?"
"They come from the shops"
"Yeah, but where do the shops get them from?"