Margaret Eby
February 26, 2015 6:00 am

Ontario recently gave their sex education curriculum a bit of a makeover, making updates to reflect the reality that things like the Internet are now a part of every day lives. We say, right on Canada. The birds and the bees are a super different now that things like sexting and Google searches exist, and it’s important to teach kids about all the realities they’re going to face.

The curriculum guidelines were last updated in 1998, which obviously did not at all account for life online. Under the new guidelines, first, second and third graders will learn skills like safe Internet searching and, according to Canada’s CBC News“how to get help for themselves or others if harassment or abuse happens either face-to-face or online.” Super, super, important stuff. By fourth grade, they’ll be taught about sexting. Fifth and sixth graders will learn more about the emotional side effects of sending sexual images online.

“The world has changed a lot in the last 15 years,” Ontario education minister Liz Sandals told Al-Jazeera America. “Students have instant access to quite explicit information from unreliable, inaccurate, and often offensive sources.”

Basically, it sounds like Ontario will be prepping kids for situations they will actually face, which is honestly amazing. The web is a relatively new space and it’s key to learn when not to press send, what not to upload, and when to ask for help. Ignoring the fact that kids as young as first graders need to know how to navigate these situations won’t make the situations go away, it’ll just make the kids ill-prepared to deal with them when they come up. 

To be blunt: Canadian educational programs are implementing really important curriculum changes that the rest of the world should be paying attention to. Kids have Internet at a young age, and figuring out the boundaries between public and private can be a minefield. Acknowledging that, yes, kids sext, and yes, they can be taught how to do so without having potentially embarrassing photos plastered all over Tumblr is both necessary and forward-thinking.

Bonus: Part of the new curriculum is dedicated to combating homophobia. Go Canada.

The new guidelines go into effect in September.

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