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Online porn, sexting should be included in sex ed. curriculum, Alberta professor says

WATCH ABOVE: While young Albertans already get taught about sexual health in school, a University of Alberta researcher says in the interests of safety, students need to learn much more. Laurel Gregory reports. And a warning, this story contains some racy content.

By the age of 15 to 17, about one third of Canadian students have had sex.

Eighty-five per cent of grade 11 students have a cell phone.

For André Grace, the statistics speak to the need for sexual health education that is accurate, timely and relevant to kids and teens in 2016. The director of research for the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services suggests students are not getting that in their sexuality education classes offered in Alberta schools.

Alberta Education determines the curriculum for Health and Life Skills (K-9) and Career and Life Management (high school). A spokesperson from the department says it is not intended to be specific, and individual teachers can determine which details they teach. Between that approach and the fact individual school boards potentially set their own priorities, Grace says sexual education is offered in a way that is piecemeal and inconsistent.

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Global News recently sat down with Grace to discuss the topic.

Global News: What’s working in the way sexual education is taught and what isn’t?

Andre Grace: What is interesting is that, because education is a provincial and territorial responsibility in Canada, we see differences across the country.

There has been some comparative work. I think in Alberta we do have a significant amount of work to do to improve the sexual health curriculum. There isn’t consistency in delivery.

For example, we have a component on sexual health education in the Career and Life Management (CALM) course in grades 10 to 12 but I did interviews with students at Edmonton public schools and those students would describe what was going on in their CALM classes and I drew the conclusion that there’s very uneven delivery of sexual health education in those high schools and that deeply concerns me. So I started to look more closely.

There are 36 objects in the CALM course and only two of them focus on sexual health education. If, even with those two, there’s uneven delivery, then there are certainly students in our high schools that are getting very little in terms of sexual health education.

Watch below: Grace speaks about what needs to be talked about in Alberta classrooms

Alberta professor weighs in on what should be taught in sexual health education classes
Alberta professor weighs in on what should be taught in sexual health education classes

GN: Should online pornography be addressed?

AG: To me, it absolutely should be addressed. For example, one of the problems I have with my health outreach program is working with male youth who do not use condoms anymore. A lot of these youth are watching online pornography and condom use is out the window.

GN: What would you say to a parent who says, ‘I don’t want teachers talking about pornography to my kid?’

AG: I would say to them, ‘do you want your child to be healthy in the long term?’

I use the phrase that I want children and youth to be happy, healthy and hopeful and that means they need to be mentally healthy, sexually healthy and physically healthy. I think that parents are not often able, unless they are trained sexual educators themselves, to talk about sexual health in a complete and informative way, and they should not only rely on but demand that their schools do a total job delivering age-appropriate sexual health education.

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To me, it’s a question of saying to a parent, ‘Do you want your child to be healthy? Do you want your child to be safe?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Response to calls for a curriculum overhaul from Alberta Education Minister David Eggen:

“We have been engaging with our education partners and other organizations on how to ensure our sexual education program is comprehensive and that it is meeting the needs of students,” Eggen said in a statement to Global News.

“Sexual consent is the law, and our government’s expectation is that it be taught in schools. Our teachers play a valuable role in the safety and education of our young Albertans. They have the opportunity to work with parents and to access community resources to address student needs. We will ensure that sexual education is included in our plans for curriculum modernization and will be discussing this important matter with Albertans every step of the way.”

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Watch below: Instruction video from 1966 on how parents should talk to their children about sex