If you live in Ontario, you recently became aware of the new Sex Education curriculum for public elementary school students.
You also recently became aware that when it comes to talking about sensitive topics, some Ontarians would rather discuss personal debt and their credit score before they would want to talk about sex. Take our provincial government for example. The previous curriculum was crafted in the mid to late 1990s, decades before “sexting” was part of the vernacular.
Immediate reaction was critical; those parents who felt the new lessons went too far, and those who felt things were left out.
In a nutshell, the new curriculum would introduce the concept of consent starting in Grade 1. Considering grown adults struggle with consent, I think this is bloody brilliant. What better time to educate a human about permission to touch another human being than when they are at their most “touchy-feely”!?
Then, GASP, children are introduced to what masturbation is around Grade 6. Since most kids – particularly in my experience, the male ones, have hands-on experience in this area before this age, I’m not sure why this is so shocking?? Let’s be proactive instead of reactive. Especially when it comes to making babies! Pregnancy prevention hits around Grade 8 and while you might be about to protest that this is FAR too young, let me advise you that a student a year old than First Born Son became a daddy several years ago, at the ripe old age of 14. I’m thinking this new curriculum would have helped him tremendously!
The argument many people have is that sexual education should come from a child’s parents. In a perfect world, it would. In a perfect world, all parents would be perfect too, so the type of information passed to their children would be flawless. Alas, we have flawed parents who are teaching their flawed perspectives of sexuality on to their children. There are some parents who get it right and are able to give their children a healthy understanding of their sexuality; and there are the others. I’m thinking of the parents of a girl who came to school and accused two boys of making inappropriate comments to her (think along the lines of various sexual positions) that they would like to try with her. Oh, did I mention they were in Grade 4 at the time?! Following a traumatic interrogation of the two boys, it eventually came out that the comments were never made, and that the young girl shows an inordinate amount of knowledge of risqué vocabulary which, she eventually told the teacher, was due to the fact that her much older siblings allowed her to watch porn with them. THAT’S one way of educating the child in the home!!!
Now what about the parents who have their own personal sexual issues? Whether it’s an extreme religious view, homophobia, a history of molestation or perhaps being exposed to a sexually transmitted disease; is it ok that they pass along these traumas to their children? To make sex an evil and unhealthy activity that will only serve to warp yet another generation?
We were fortunate enough to have a really good conversation about sex with both our sons. The Big Guy wasn’t sure what to expect when talking to his sons, since his parents didn’t feel the need to have the conversation with him. His knowledge came from friends and the stilted sex ed program of the 1970s. I can remember feeling traumatized when the girls were corralled in one class room for the talk about the female reproductive organs, and then the following year, they threw us together with the boys to discuss how babies were made – THAT made for a very interesting afternoon recess, I can tell you that much! We were all afraid to stand too close to each other, for fear we’d make a baby!!!
Today the challenges are hitting children younger and younger. They see images online, in movies and in life. Technology provides good and bad opportunities, and denying the education necessary to navigate the waters won’t make these facts go away.
At the end of the day, sexuality is part of what makes us human and if we want our children to be healthy, whole individuals, we have to make sure they have all the information they need at the age they need it at, in the society they are faced with.