Sexual Health at Home and School

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
"Sexual Health Begins at Home". Indeed, sexual health starts in diapers. The way parents and caregivers handle children's private parts and bodily functions gives kids lots of information about sex. They learn that some folks are comfortable with it and some folks are not. While most parents believe sexual health education is important, they also acknowledge that they are doing very little about it at home.

With the new Health and Physical Education curriculum going into Ontario classrooms, sex ed may be more likely to start at school. Kids have always heard about sex on the school yard, coming home with questions lilke, "Mom, what's a 'blowjob'? or singing refrains like, "Heeey, sexy lady!" (What does "sexy lady" mean to a kid in gr. 2?!) This year, our kids' misinformed peers and sexualized media consumption will be supplemented by an evidence-based approach to healthy sexuality. The teachers who deliver these lessons, like parents themselves, have their own comfort zones but they are now much better-equipped to handle sex talk at school.

One of the most important topics in the new curriculum is consent. Sexual consent is addressed in gr. 7 and 8, giving students time to reflect on respect and readiness before most of them are likely be sexually active. With its overall emphasis on prevention, the new curriculum gives students strategies before they need them. For younger children, consent can be discussed in the context of any relationship.

Let me give you an example from my own life...

When my daughter was about 7, she was playing on a trampoline with a boy who was a bit younger, but also a bit stronger, than she was. I was just inside the house, making their lunch, when I noticed the jumping sounds had stopped. When I went to check, she was lying on her back and he was sitting on top of her. I asked, "Are both of you happy with that game?" He said, "Yep!" She yelled, "NO!!!" I suggested they needed to find a game that was good for both of them. They got back to jumping, no one had been shamed, but an important message had been conveyed.

We can talk about consent at very early ages, laying the ground for respectful relationships and eventually reducing rates of sexual assault.

For further information about consent, visit: (a campaign by the Canadian Women's Foundataion)
Bad Subject (a new project, funded by Trillium, whose website will be launched in October) (Quick Facts for Parents by the Ministry of Education)

Thanks for reading. Wishing all of you a sexually healthy school year!

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