Starting this fall, 1,200 daycare-aged children across Quebec will take part in a sex ed pilot project.
The children will be taught about gender equality and how to protect themselves from sexual abuse
The initiative is a pilot program run by the Marie Vincent Foundation, an organization that provides medical and therapeutic services to children who are victims of sexual violence.
Laura El-Hachem, a social worker at the foundation, said the project "aims at empowering these children in their psychosocial development so that one day when they're older and when their ready to engage in more sexual relationships that it's done properly."
The pilot will begin in November.
CBC Montreal spoke to El-Hachem about what parents can expect from the program. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Overall, what will children learn?
It's about teaching the children how to respect their boundaries, other people's boundaries [and] how to communicate their discomfort if a situation arises where they feel like they're not being respected.
Also gender equality between boys and girls.
How will children be taught about preventing sexual abuse?
We're using a lot of books [and] we're using also a big game aimed at teaching children about sexual violence.
Adults that perpetrate these assaults often use the idea of a game. They'll tell the child, we're going to play a special game between you and I nobody needs to know.
We've created an actual game that aims at showing children how really anytime sexual parts are involved, it is never a game — it is never OK to keep that secret.
Watch Laura El-Hachem show one of the books used in the program:
How will children be taught about gender equality?
We created some books for the younger toddlers that are about teaching them about gender equality.
It's about teaching that there are no activities that are strictly exclusive to boys or strictly exclusive to girls.
What if parents don't want their child to take part?
Our job is to address the worries of the parents and to take that into consideration and to really, really work with them to make them comfortable.
With this project, [more than] 100 parents were involved. A lot of them filled out questionnaires and surveys about what they felt needed to be taught to their children.
So the parents are involved in building this project. It's a project for the communities by the communities.
If a parent feels like their child should not be a part of it, then it's always possible to remove a child. It is not a mandatory program like the sex education program in schools.