August 9th, 2017
Newfoundland and Labrador
PANSOW concerned the Premiers taskforce does not address high levels of domestic Violence in NL
The Premiers task force on education was a welcome and long overdue report on the current state of our education system, that contained 82 key recommendations for change; (http://www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/task_force/report.pdf) many of which we support. However, the Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) is alarmed that the opportunity may have been missed to address the high levels of violence women experience in our province.
Domestic violence rates in Newfoundland and Labrador are the highest per capita in the country. In other provinces where domestic violence is showing a minor decline, NL is in fact seeing a rise in domestic violence. We have experienced several domestic violence homicides over the last decade, and quite frankly, the levels of violence can no longer be tolerated. https://www.gov.nl.ca/VPI/facts/violence_against_women_fact_sheet.pdf
To end this cycle of violence, comprehensive changes to our education curriculum must be included. We can begin to have a substantial impact on violence in the province through teaching our children how to stop the cycle of violence for good. Violence is not the natural order of things; it is learned behaviour that can be unlearned. Violence is rooted in inequality and therefore there is a need for children to learn about and address the impacts of various forms of inequality.
The Premiers task force identified a number of issues that were raised repeatedly, such as students wanting education on gender sensitivities, respectful relationships, the meaning of consent, internet and online safety, violence and abuse (p. 32). Despite this, none of the 82 recommendations address these concerns. It is time for an updated sex education curriculum, encompassing kindergarten to grade 12 – that is age and developmentally appropriate which includes: healthy relationships, consent, gender inequality, LGTBQ experiences, sexual health and conflict resolution.
Updated education curriculum such as this has been launched in Ontario. Sex education is part of the “Healthy Living” section, under the category of Human Development and Sexual Health, which makes up about 10 % of their curriculum. This curriculum provides students with the opportunity to learn information that can help them to make healthy decisions surrounding food, safety at home, school and in the community, alcohol and other substances, sexual activity.” (https://www.ontario.ca/page/sex-education-ontario)
We implore the members of the task force, the Minister for Education and the Premier, to strike an immediate committee of experts to inform the taskforce how to include this curriculum change immediately and as part of the report.
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Jenny Wright | Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
PANSOW is a grass roots, feminist & non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in NL