|Reporter-Herald Lends Credibility To Outrageous
Claim That 1 in 4 Loveland Teens is Homeless
Homeless Teen Survey At High Schools Reports Proposterous Results
Loveland - February 3, 2009
Readers of the Loveland Reporter-Herald may have confused Tuesday’s edition with an edition of the satirical
newspaper “The Onion” where inane stories, wild execrations and outright nonsense are reported as fact for reaction
In large print on the front page (worthy of real news) the Reporter Herald announced “Homeless Numbers
Shocking” of students attending Thompson schools due to an anonymous survey of Loveland area high school
students. According to the study, nearly 1 in 4 high school students in Loveland have been homeless sometime
during the past four years.
The story reports that researchers found the numbers “reflect a reality shocking to some within the district.”
According to the survey results, some 24% of all students responded they have been homeless at sometime during
the past 4 years. Since only half of the students even bothered to answer the questions, the “researchers”
extrapolated the data to make a projection for all high school students across the city.
LovelandPolitics interviewed five Loveland High School students who participated in the study. All five were boys
and three of the five admitted to misleading the survey. At least two of the five found the choices provided in the
survey too tempting to ignore. Instead of saying they live in a safe and secure home (as they really do) they instead
answered they were living out of their car or in a public park.
A cursory review or audit of the registered student addresses on file, general housing data or census statistics for
Loveland or even police reports of curfew violations are indicators of teenage homeless that both the school district
and Reporter-Herald may have consulted as a “Sanity Check” before rushing to conclusions about what the survey
If you are to believe the survey results, more than 1,000 teenagers have been wondering the alleys in downtown
Loveland, seeking shelter in parks or sleeping in parked vehicles around the city at some time during the past four
years. While the Loveland Reporter-Herald is often an invaluable source of local news, sometimes the reporter
misses the boat and reports a press release as fact without critically examining the information they are being
The homeless story went on to say “While some numbers were surprising to administrators, the survey revealed
something many already knew: Students are reluctant to report to school officials when they are homeless.” In fact,
the survey only reveals that students who take anonymous surveys cannot resist the temptation to be mischievous.
Control questions regarding the students’ grade point average, frequency of absences or academic level of classes
taken could have been compared to objective and verifiable data to calibrate the accuracy of the answers provided
on the survey.
The same administrators, who don’t believe students will be candid about why they are late to school and require a
note from parents, are reacting to the survey as if it is fact. High school students have long been known to invent
answers on anonymous surveys where it cannot be traced to the student. The term is “pranking surveys” where
students enjoy skewing the results of the survey by providing more interesting answers instead of necessarily
accurate ones while encouraging their friends to do the same. One student told LovelandPolitics he enjoyed telling
friends that he answered he sleeps in his car even though he doesn’t.
Even Adults Lie On Life-Style Surveys
According to one computer industry researcher, “The majority of consumers who buy computers claim that personal
finance management is one of the top three reasons they are purchasing a PC. They've been claiming this for more
than a decade. But only somewhere around 2% of consumers end up using a personal finance manager.”
In addition, more people alive today claim to have fought in Vietnam than ever served in the military during the 1960’
s or 1970’s. Staggering numbers of people claim to have voted for Kennedy that didn’t and most people will
intentionally misrepresent their gas mileage, eating habits and TV watching hours on volunteer surveys when
compared to more objective data.
Despite the survey results indicating over 1,000 homeless teens in Loveland, the20Thompson School District is
aware of only 20 from last year. While it is likely there are more than 20 homeless students, exaggerating the
problem by passing false survey numbers onto the public doesn’t necessarily help those truly in need. Even 20
students being without proper shelter are too many and the community needs to respond appropriately.
Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, House of Neighborly Services and Catholic Charities are three excellent
organizations people should consider supporting financially to help alleviate the need of basic food and shelter in our
In the meantime, don’t believe everything you read.