A SENIOR Borders councillor says she was “shocked” by the content of some questions included in a Scottish Government questionnaire for young people.

Concerns over the Health and Wellbeing Census were raised back in December, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defending the decision to ask school pupils about topics including sexual experiences, drugs and alcohol.

And the matter was raised during the open questions section of last week’s Scottish Borders Council (SBC) meeting.

Galashiels representative Harry Scott said that a former teacher had been in touch with him to say that asking teenagers about their sexual activity is “wholly inappropriate”.

The councillor asked SBC’s executive member for children and young people, Carol Hamilton, if the local authority was planning to take part in the census.

Confirming that the council would be, Ms Hamilton, of the Conservatives, said: “The Health and Wellbeing Census is provided to support planning of appropriate levels of services and resource to support young people based on needs identified themselves.

“I think we were all surprised and shocked when we saw the content of the questions and the age group they were targeting.”

The East Berwickshire representative said that it is up to SBC what questions they ask.

She added that councillors would be consulted before the questions go out to children in the region.

Mr Scott said: “The arguments for and against could be argued forever but as Ms Hamilton said some of these questions are quite intimate and quite personal.”

He said that it should be made clear to all participants that the questionnaire is not anonymous.

By law, councils and their partners are required to plan for children’s services for their local area.

Responses to the survey will be shared with government analysts using “secure transfer systems”.

A government spokesperson said that individual children and young people “will never be identified from any published findings”.

Responding to concerns in December at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: “We have two choices. Either we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend that young people are not exposed to the issues or the pressures that we know they are exposed to – or we can seek to properly understand the reality young people face and then provide them with the guidance, the advice and the services they need to make safe, healthy and positive decisions.

“I choose the latter.”

She added: “This is a voluntary survey. Any parent can refuse to give consent and of course, any young person can opt not to take part in the survey or to skip a particular question in the survey. It is not mandatory.”