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Topic —  Health Ages & Stages — School Age,

How Should Sex Education Begin?

Sara Dimerman
March 09, 2015
Sara Dimerman
Where and How Should Sex Education Begin?
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Sex. It’s a topic I’ve become increasingly comfortable bantering about—especially since the writing and release of my latest book on the topic of why married couples don’t have sex. As a result, I have spent countless hours discussing this subject with the media as well as others. All this at a time when the province in which I live has produced a document detailing their new curriculum for Health and Physical Education for students in grades 1 to 8, within which they discuss changes to sex education.

The new changes, set to take place in September, 2015, have stirred a big pot of controversy among critics who feel strongly about children being exposed to certain topics at too young an age or hearing things from teachers that go against their religious beliefs or moral code.

The way I see it, there’s a power struggle as to where sex education, and in what form, should begin. In the home? At school? The new document does acknowledge that ‘parents are the primary educators of their children with respect to learning about values, appropriate behaviour, and ethnocultural, spiritual, and personal beliefs and traditions and they are their children’s first role models’. So, we may be the first but does that mean we have to be the only?

I believe that we need to work with and trust the people who we have given the responsibility of helping to educate our children. We have to assume that they haven’t just come up with a new curriculum overnight or that they have pulled ideas out of a hat. We can safely believe that they have done research and consulted with many respected educators about the development of children and what they are safely able to absorb at any given age, and how to share that information with them.

For some children, this may be the only sex education they get. I know many parents who have a very difficult time broaching the topic of sex and sexuality. They blush and stutter at the thought of even doing so. Some may even have been raised to believe that sex is dirty and bad and may therefore have a difficult time looking beyond what’s ingrained in their minds as they guide their children through their formative years. So, instead of feeling afraid of passing on shame and embarrassment, they may actually welcome having their child’s teacher initiate a discussion that they can then expand upon or even enjoy the opportunity of having their child share with them what he or she has learnt. 

For those who may have concerns about their children being exposed to material that will encourage them to experiment before they are ready, I urge you to open your eyes to what your children are already being exposed to on social media and television. I see and hear about too many children who are sending crude messages to friends and strangers at the age of 10 or 11, and of children who are watching pornographic images on YouTube before they are even teenagers. So I am not concerned that children will be negatively influenced by what at they are being shown or taught by people who are trained to understand children and their development.

After looking over the 244 page document, the Ministry is quite clear that they recognize ‘some topics need to be approached with additional sensitivity, care and awareness because of their connection to family values, religious beliefs or other social or cultural norms’. I’ve even heard that students may have the option to opt out of classes in which specific topics are being addressed.

The ideal situation is for parents and educators to work together. Knowing in advance what the teacher is going to teach your children and then working alongside him or her can only benefit your children and prepare them for the realities of the 21st century. Religious and cultural beliefs aside, human beings are all the same when it comes to basic fundamental needs and wants. By recognizing and accepting this, we can work together at raising a generation of people who are comfortable in their own skin and less vulnerable as a result of being more informed.

Images from Shutterstock.

Sara Dimerman is a psychologist and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families. She is one of North America's most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books: Am I a Normal Parent?, Character is The Key and How Can I Be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother?: The Answer to Becoming Partners Again. Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for 'helpmesara' podcasts on iTunes or visiting www.helpmesara.com. Follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.
Comments | Tagged under health, school, educational, sex
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For an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging nutrient boost, crack open a can of peaches
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“To can or not to can”...that’s what Hamlet should have been asking. But I won’t dare rewrite Shakespeare, instead, I will ask whether canned food should have a place in your healthy gourmet kitchen. 

I am working with the California Cling Peach Board, so I wanted to figure out their health benefits. I already know that I love peaches, and waiting 11 months for my fix isn’t fun, so in the winter months, I find myself turning to the canned variety.

Here is what I discovered: canned peaches (which are picked ripe, at their peak) deliver a promising amount of nutrients that are actually enhanced by the canning process.  Vitamin A, folate, lycopene and some anti-oxidants are made more bioavailable by the heating and canning process. But the truly impressive nutrient is Vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble anti-inflammatory, anti-aging nutrient that is usually associated with nuts and seeds.  And while those little bites are great for you, a small handful is all you can eat each day because of their caloric punch. Fruit sources, on the other hand, can be layered in without worry and consumed in satisfyingly high amounts.

There is even research to support that the canning process actually enhances the eye-protecting nutrients of leutin and zeaxanthan, as well as lycopene.

Some of the other cans that I always have on hand include:

  • evaporated milk for coffee, hot chocolate and smoothies. It has all the creaminess and twice the calcium and protein but none of the fat found in cream.
  • Low sodium chicken broth for quick soups.
  • Refried beans for quick burritos or nachos.
  • Clams for stirring into pasta with garlic and parmesan cheese

February was National Canned Food Month and March is Nutrition Month, and I see no reason why the two can’t get along.

Curried Peach Pork Tenderloin
This is one of those mildly curried dishes that takes no time to prepare and is a family-friendly quickie.

Makes 4 servings

Takes: 30 minutes

Recipe developed by Theresa Albert

You’ll Need

  • 1 pork tenderloin (1.5 pounds) cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can clingstone peach slices, juice reserved
  • 1 cup sweet white wine
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Pea shoots for garnish, optional

Prep and Cook

  1. Combine curry and chili powders, one clove of garlic and olive oil in a large freezer bag. Add pork tenderloin and rub spice mixture into meat. Set aside on counter for a few minutes, or place in fridge to marinate for up to 24 hours.
  2. In a small pot combine juice from clingstone peaches (but set aside peaches themselves until later), wine, vinegar and remaining garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10–20 minutes to reduce into a sauce. Stir in peaches and reduce heat to keep warm until pork is cooked.
  3. Empty pork into a casserole dish and bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Add the peach sauce and cook for 5-10 more minutes.  Garnish with pea shoots or other herb greens.

  4. Image of peaches from Shutterstock.

    Theresa is a Food Communications Specialist and Nutritionist. Her French Canadian influences are a part of her 'no bologna' style as everything is on the table...not just the dinner. She has the unique ability to distill complex health concepts into simple, savvy steps to improve any lifestyle choice. Theresa is a sought after media commentator and lifestyle pundit on many topics with a particular fascination with human relationships with food and culture. She has two books published in Canada and the US: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck. She can be found on Twitter as @theresaalbert and at www.myfriendinfood.com.
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