Dedicated family, sexual health instructor needed for schools - InfoNews

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Dedicated family, sexual health instructor needed for schools

Parent Erica McDowell wants the family life program to return to the Okanagan-Skaha School District.
June 11, 2013 - 5:08 PM

PENTICTON — The absence of a family life program for schools could jeopardize future relationships, a victims' advocate said.

"We are concerned because a lot of safe sex and healthy relationship (education) should be a part of growing up in any school," Christine Schwarz said. The acting director of the South Okanagan Victims Assistance Society commented on School District 67's decision to not fill the position of a family life teacher. This person educated senior students on safe sex, relationship boundaries and sexual health but she had retired some time ago. The school board decided to save money by not replacing her.

Parent Erica McDowell said at Monday's school board meeting the program is very much needed.

Schwarz and staff work with women, children and men who have experienced family violence and sexualized abuse. Family life instruction can go a long way in preventing such action. "We just see a real need for education. It's just an important piece. It could prevent a lot of violence and trauma later in life."

Schwarz said classroom teachers already have enough to do. They are also in positions of authority with children and may not be in the best position to talk about life and sexual health.

A group of unhappy parents wrote a letter to the board about how upset they were with the replacement for the family life program. They said the previous job was a full-time position which required training. The new program is a 70 minute presentation for groups of Grade 10 students.

The parents also said it's been difficult for each school to come up with their own version of the old model.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1

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