Quebec Government Turning to Education System for Prevention of Sexual Assaults

by jpd95 on March 16, 2015 - 9:48pm

Geoffrey Vandeville wrote in his article about the Quebec Federation of Women wanting the government to implement sex-education courses in every grade of every school across the province.  As Vandeville writes in the article, the current government stated that it had the intention of modifying the current program when it comes to sexual education.


In 2005, the Charest government slashed the sexual education classes across the province under education reform.  The current government has also shared its intention of implementing a “pilot project” in schools in the next school year to try to bring sexual education back into the classes.


The President of the Quebec Federation of Women, Alexa Conradi, stated “It doesn’t have to be about sexuality in daycare, of course, but it can be about challenging stereotypes, challenging the hyper-sexualization of little girls, challenging the idea of a certain kind of masculinity.”  She went on to say the daycare workers should start encouraging young children to question gender stereotypes, she firmly believes this should start at a young age.


The Quebec government decided to revise the current action plan after the Jian Ghomeshi scandal erupted last year.  The government is looking for ways to prevent sexual assaults against women and Conradi is a firm believer that in order for the government to be able to successfully reach its goal, it needs to approach it through the educational system.  Conradi also states “one-in-three women in Quebec, including herself, has experienced some kind of sexual harassment.”  The Quebec minister responsible for the status of women, Stéphanie Vallée, agrees with Conradi that prevention does in fact go through education.


The Montreal Sexual Assault Centre is currently looking for female volunteers comfortable speaking both English and French.  If you are interested in volunteering for this organization please visit their website for all information.  For a brief overview of the volunteering opportunity, visit the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal website.


The topic you have chosen is a super important one, that is so relevant for our generation. The media is so prominent starting at younger and younger ages and the gender stereotypes that it creates are so strong in our society. It is easy for the government not to get involved in such a personal and touchy subject in schools but, that is not the right way to handle it. The more that school implement sexual education courses, starting at young ages the more comfortable people will be expressing their sexual orientation. Starting at a young age children can be taught to not always look at gender stereotypes, if we can start eliminating them at a young age they will become less prevalent in society. It will also empower more women while growing up and teach men that women aren’t frail and won’t be taken advantage of. As children get older, sex ed. classes in schools can teach students to understand more about different sexual orientations and desires, which will allow them to not assume things about others and to be more comfortable expressing themselves. Sexual orientation and gender are things that affect someone’s life so much, teaching children at a young age can help eliminate alienation, bullying and discrimination which is crucial in our society. It is important not to avoid these troubling subjects.

Your post effectively illustrates the consequences of gender stereotypes in modern society and the interesting proposal to prevent such repercussions through the education system. While Conradi insists that children should be taught to challenge gender issues at a young age, this prevention method raises the question of whether preschool children should be exposed to these mature subjects at such an early age. Indeed, exposing young boys and girls about why people act in a certain way because of their gender or more controversial subjects such as the hyper-sexualization of little girls and then attempting to explain these properly to underdeveloped minds can be troublesome, whereas asking these children to challenge the behavior of adults could be even more complicated to achieve. On this point, I disagree with Conradi’s proposal and would much rather let children develop more fundamental physical and emotional skills without the need for them to question their actions in relation to what society has dictated as gender. Nevertheless, Conradi makes a fair point in using education as a method of prevention for further violence and harassment towards women, which is why the correct way to prevent the latter would be to teach these issues when the human mind is more capable of understanding concepts like ethics, morality, stereotypes and gender. Thus, these topics could be explored in classes as early as the last years of primary school, but certainly not in daycare.

Nowadays, there are so many news reports and articles about yet another victim of sexual assault, so I agree that there should be an implementation of a course on sexual education to prevent. This post in general does a good job in informing the public that we should educate ourselves in order to protect ourselves. I completely agree that young kids should be raised with the notion to question stereotypical gender roles in order to feel more comfortable with their sexuality, but to also respect the sexualities of others around them. Although it is fairly intuitive that sexual assault has a lot of negative effects on the victims, I would have liked it for you to explore the severity of the issue in order to discuss specifically how the education system itself can be turned into a means to prevent sexual assault from occurring. By approaching the issue with the emotional and physical trauma linked to sexual assault in mind, it would have been more effective to convince the public the necessity of educating the younger generation about sexuality. Unlike young kids, teenagers have already grown up to the age where they have their own views in life simply from the experiences they have lived through. So how can schools educate these students? With what information are they going to educate the students with in order to prevent rape? Your post also implies that the government and adults have a moral obligation to protect the women since they responsible for the status of women, which I also agree with.This post alone did a great job in raising awareness about the issue of sexual, so I'm sure that bigger means of prevention will be so much effective!

This was a very interesting post to read: it brings up a major issue in our society, that of sexual violence and sexuality in general. You talk about the gender stereotypes in our society and how the government is trying to implement classes for kids of all ages to learn what these stereotypes are and how to overcome them and to better deal with all gender issues, including sexual assault. You seem to be supporting the idea that these classes should be put into effect because they would help a lot of kids, but also would hopefully minimize the number of victims in the future. I guess your approach, in the decision of whether or not it is a good idea to address sexuality, a taboo subject still, starting as early as pre-k, is the assumption that if it will cause a lot of good then it is worth it. This would be considered a utilitarian approach to an ethical dilemma (i.e. the solution that will provide the greatest good for the greatest number and the least harm is the right one). I agree with your take on this question. Sexuality is such an important factor in each kid’s life, from the types of toys they play with to sexual orientation and to sometimes facing sexual violence, that this change in curriculum would benefit everyone. We need to talk about these issues and education is definitely the key.

Side note that I must address: There is a problem with your article and it is the following line: “The government is looking for ways to prevent sexual assaults against women[...]” I read the article you reference in your text and while it does say that the program should focus on women that face a higher risk of being sexually victimized (e.g. aboriginals and immigrants), it does not mention that sexual assaults against women specifically is what they aim to stop. In fact, right at the start, the article highlights that the goal is to “prevent sexual harassment (Vendeville).” Period. There is no qualifier following that statement. The assumption on your part that they are trying to “prevent sexual assaults against women” (one that many others most likely made as well) is part of a bigger problem that also has to do with gender representation in our society. In other words, the fact that you automatically assume that women are the victims in this scenario speaks volumes on what society is currently teaching us: that men are the strong (or violent) ones, and women are the weak ones (or victims) that men are violent against. Many boys and men are sexually assaulted as well, yet will shy away from reporting it due to the idea we have that men should not be victims, as that is a sign of weakness. Not to mention, there are also female perpetrators. These are all issues that I hope the government is also trying to cover in their new sex ed classes. I’m not trying to attack you for those two extra words, because many people would come to the same conclusion (i.e. that women are the victims), but that statement only reinforces the gender roles governed by social norms. I understand that a lot of sexual harassment victims are indeed female, but I hope you see my viewpoint.