Sex in the dark: A lack of education
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 11:14AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 22, 2013 8:10AM EST
Sex is a touchy topic, particularly when it's being taught to children.
Even more touchy these days, however, is the fact that sex education is regularly not being taught in Quebec.
A growing number of sex educators, teachers and doctors say the Education Ministry has dropped the ball and sexually curious teenagers are paying the price.
Stephanie Mitelman is a sex educator with the Sexual Health Network of Quebec and does private consultations through Sexpressions.
She is often hired to fill the gaps in knowledge that are left by the public system.
"I think it's important the public knows that most kids are not getting the sex ed in the classrooms today and of course sex-ed is most effective when they get it in school as well as at home from parents," she said.
For decades sex education was a staple in North American high schools, but in 2005 Quebec decided to change course and dedicated instruction was removed from the curriculum.
"The concept was we have the math teacher involved, the french teacher involved, the english teacher... that sex ed is really important, that everybody's got to take a slice of it and we're going to have more of it. The concept was terrific," said Mitelman.
But after several years the concept has stumbled into reality, with teachers saying they have no idea how to teach the subject, and just are not prepared for the questions students have.
"I was approached by two girls and they were asking how to make a female condom or a dental dam and it was difficult because they were the ones comfortable coming to me, but I felt trapped," said Kate Leggitt.
Music teacher Andrew Mangal agrees.
"They want us to implement this in all of our classes but they haven't given us anything concrete, no curriculum to teach," Mangal said.
Lack of education
At a time when sexual energy is in overdrive, and in a society that emphasizes sexuality, many teenagers are completely in the dark about sex, its risks and its rewards.
Students told CTV Montreal they learned about avoiding pregnancy, but nothing about sexually transmitted diseases. Many seem unaware that anything other than intercourse can be a sexual act.
"I think there is more oral sex than there used to be," said Dr. Giosi Di Meglio, a gynecologist at the Montreal Children's Hospital.
"Girls in particular are seeing it less as an act of intimacy and that's why it's an initial action so we are hearing that more and more girls may have multiple sex partners."
Several teenaged girls confirmed that viewpoint.
"It's crazy because now people would do it publicly, not even in an intimate space," said one girl.
Another girl, more informed, said "It's dangerous because now there's a lot of girls with throat disease because of that."
"We didn't learn about STI (sexually transmitted infections) or how to prevent it. We just know how to prevent pregnancy."
Resources for sex education