By Rahila Ovais

Are We Ready For The Revised Health And Physical Education Curriculum?

Ontario parents are not holding back their concerns when talking about the new Health and Physical Education (sex-ed) curriculum introduced by the Wynne government. While we may question the appropriateness of these ‘updates’ and also voice our concerns and discomforts on the topic, have we also considered how else do/can our kids get this information?

The internet is an open world to all of us. Do we monitor our kids 24/7 with their devices, at school (whether public or private), out with friends or at a family sleepover?

While I disagree with some of the terms of this curriculum, I want to know how we as parents are going to teach our kids about these pressing issues. Let’s say, if we withdraw our kids from the class for that day, how do we ensure our kids will not hear something further misconstrued from their friends?

And then what’s wrong with kids learning the names of their body parts or consent? I believe every kid should know how to say NO, and yes as early as 4 years old and there is a very valid reason for that too. Child abuse is a topic like an elephant in the room, it happens where you least expect it and these days our children are at risk via multiple exposures, not just physical abuse but also online! How do we ensure safety of our kids?

Will you have this talk with your kids? Not just talking about puberty but also explaining to them about the risks of sexting or any unwanted sexual touching? Can we be as open with our kids when discussing this topic as school teachers might be?

The real question is: if we are opposing this new curriculum or if we wish to have it revised, in which case, what are our options? What would you do to inform your kids about the risks of today’s society? We can have every reason to oppose this new curriculum, but what are we going to do for our kids in this regard? We can’t keep them sheltered. What we can do is raise awareness.

We must remember that living in Canada we, our kids and our families are exposed to these challenges day in and day out. Our kids are going to eventually learn about this one way or the other. What we can do is further our teaching of religious, cultural and moral values. That is what we should focus on. Instead of being reactive, let us put our efforts on being proactive in this situation. Ideally we all would like this curriculum to be revised making it more age-appropriate but the government has made it quite clear that won’t be happening. So now we must jump into action on how to communicate to our kids that not everything they learn from school applies to our lifestyle, our religion and our values.

Now is our opportunity to strengthen our bonds with our kids, to give them a heightened understanding of our religion and moral values. That’s where our focus should be. We need to educate ourselves and then only can we educate our kids clearly identifying the challenges of being a Muslim in these times.

About the author:

Rahila Ovais is a Pharmacy Technician working at the Ontario College of Pharmacists. A mother to four, she’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself.

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