Sexual health education requires communication with parents to help with reinforcing messages, says letter writer. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Parents must have role in sex-ed

Hats off for the article on the new personal and sexual health educator for our school district

To the editor,

Re: School district looks for consistency with sex-ed classes, Dec. 12.

Hats off to Tamara Cunningham and the editor for the front-page article on the new personal and sexual health educator for our local school district.

However, we’ve found that the sex-ed curriculum, while attempting to include everyone, actually leaves out the parents and so the best opportunity for impact and follow through. A really thoughtful plan would include ‘communicator sheets’ sent home, so parents would know what is to be presented before it happens, and a discussion sheet to do with parents after the presentation.

Where is the sexual health educator going to be for the children after she leaves? By not including parents, the risk of it becoming chatter in the schoolyard and online is great, as many children are not mature enough for the messaging.

These kids need a sounding board. That should be the parents.

If it’s not the parents, you set another brick in the wall of communication at home.

In addition, not all children are at the same maturity level in every class. Every child doesn’t hear the same thing. I remember sitting in on my first child’s sex-ed class in Grade 8, presented by a health unit nurse. He was a smart kid, but he hadn’t absorbed one thing from the talk. Timing: simply dumping information on students doesn’t do the trick. Good programs involve families, so there’s follow through at home, done at the time that parents see the child is ready for the message, and so the family is on board with it.

If the News Bulletin hadn’t placed this article prominently, I wonder if parents would ever have known, permission slips having gone out the window long ago.

If anyone wonders why home schooling flourishes, witness the current crisis of the lack of teachers, no substitute pool, children babysat in gyms, and then force-fed mandated programs. When I became a teacher, I never thought we would be in a position where hands would be tied in so may ways, and yet forced to take the parents’ role teaching something so personal and sensitive. It’s a pity.

Margo Linder, Nanaimo

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