FGM, prostitution and 6 year olds...

Lady Heather - posted on 09/14/2011 ( 35 moms have responded )

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"Internationally recognized days are meant to raise awareness of weighty topics. But what if your children are too young to handle them?

A Toronto father says he was stunned to find mention of sex workers, female genital mutilation and Palestinian solidarity in his six-year-old son’s school-issued student planner, the National Post reports.

Jaak Purres said these references, which were marked in the planner as “Days of Significance,” such as International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on Dec. 17 and the International Day of Zero-Tolerance on Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation on Feb. 6, were inappropriate for a child of his son’s age.

...Kathleen Gallagher, professor of education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto, told the Post the inclusion of difficult subjects in the student planner could be seen as a positive thing.

“[S]ometimes these prompts provide an opportunity, however difficult, for parents and children to have important conversations,” she said. “And when it’s instituted in a calendar, it’s more likely that a child might ask their parent because walking around in the world, a child is going to encounter those ideas.” "

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-...

Okay, I am pretty open about things sex-related and will definitely have had some anatomical and biological discussions with my daughters by the time they are 6, but this is just too much for me. I do not feel like I want to talk about prostitution with a 6 year old, and no, I don't expect my little one to be "encountering those ideas" at such a young age. I'm quite sure I was not aware of prostitution at that age and I'm glad. And how exactly do you talk about genital mutilation with a 6 year old and not give them nightmares? This can't wait until after elementary school?

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Johnny - posted on 09/14/2011

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There may be some children who have the maturity to handle these topics in elementary school, but I have a hard time seeing many 6 year olds being ready for discussing FGM or prostitution in depth. I think it's great that they want to widen our children's perspective on the world, but I think these things being discussed may be a tad too much for kids in grade one to process. I have no idea how I would go about explaining FGM to a 6 year old. Like the OP said, I am open about sex-related issues and I think that these are important topics. I am just not sure that they are right for kids who should still be more worried about the monsters under their beds.

I know many of the victims of these practices are the same age, and that is exactly why it must be fought against. But I can not see a benefit of engaging little kids in that fight, unless they are remarkably and rarely mature for their age.

Jerusha - posted on 02/11/2012

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When I was 6 years old, we were not aware of such things. I never heard the word homsexual, and never knew there was such a thing. I never heard of circumcision. I never heard of a prostitute and had no idea what one was. Nobody had to be open with children about such things back then. I grew up just fine. In fact, it was a better society back in those days. There were not a bunch of babies being born out of wedlock. There was not as much divorces. There were not a bunch of sex offenders. The world was a better place then. So maybe the problem is that we are being too open with children. Children should not know what a prostitute is. Children should know nothing about genital mutilation. Children should not be too sexually educated.

Laressa - posted on 09/15/2011

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Ok I read alot etc, but honestly I never encountered FGM till within the last year when I was researching male circumcision. So maybe I'm wierd that I never heard about that before now, but it never hindered my life in anyway to NOT know about it. I'm not going to rush discussing that with my children.

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Sherri - posted on 02/12/2012

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@Jen I don't dispute you think male circumcision is wrong. However, what good is going to do to for any child who has been circumcised from birth to tell a teacher. What can they possibly do? I mean it isn't against any laws, parents haven't done anything wrong, so what exactly would be the point?

[deleted account]

Sherri, Yes, I think it's wrong. I do think it's the equivalent of FGM only with Western approval due to long term practice. The cultures that do cut girls don't really understand why we object.



But we've debated the morality of circ before and I'm happy to into it again if you like but I dont' think either of us will change their minds.

Tina - posted on 02/12/2012

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I think we can teach kids about speakin up when someone has touched them or done something inappropriate without going into detail on the horrors in the world. Kids don't need to be worrying about crazy stuff going on in the world they'll learn all about it soon enough and teaching a 6 year old certainly isn't going to change the fact that this stuff happens. As for male circumsision it's generally done at a young age and should be an issue anyway. At a later age would only be done for medical reasons.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/11/2012

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Sorry I added a "tion", so that I could refer to all sorts not specific ones.

Sylvia - posted on 02/11/2012

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Oh, I see. Here we call that an "immigrant community". As in, "Punjabi immigrant community" or "Somali immigrant community" or "Kosovar Muslim immigrant community".

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/11/2012

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Sylvia, an immigration community is where those that have immigrated develop communities together. It can be Toronto, it can be Edmonton. However, they typically are set in their own religions and ethnic culture, meaning they often do not hang out with just any child before, during or after school... They are a part of their community and often have their own communical schools.



Regardless, my child does not need to have any understanding what so ever about FGM, even if it was next door. We do not believe in it and she would not be having it happen to her. ;)

Sylvia - posted on 02/11/2012

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MeMe, I definitely read the stuff DD's teacher writes in the planner, and the stuff DD writes down that she's supposed to be doing as homework. (Well, sometimes I do.) I just don't read all the stuff that's printed in it. I didn't read the stuff in my own planners (back when I had hard-copy ones) either.



What exactly is an "immigration community"? This news story is about the city of Toronto, where around 50% of the population wasn't born in Canada. I'm pretty sure there are schools in Toronto -- including elementary schools -- where FGM needs to be on the teachers' radar.



Sherri, different people feel differently about circumcising infant boys, and I'm not going to go there. I do think it's not a bad idea for kids to know that it's okay to object to certain practices and that they can tell someone about it if it happens to them.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/11/2012

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Sylvia, you are not reading my posts at all! I said it is not legal but that it happens within immigration communities...



BTW - I DO read my children's day planner's... That now makes 2 of us I guess (the man in the OP post and me).. If we do, I bet ya many other parents do.... ;)

Sherri - posted on 02/11/2012

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I would imagine in some back woods communities somewhere your right.



What I was questioning Jen on though is she said they should go tell a teacher. So a boy who was circumcised should run to his teacher to tell her, because it is wrong?? This made no sense to me.

Sylvia - posted on 02/11/2012

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Sherri, MeMe, FGM is certainly not *legally* performed in Canada or the US, but that absolutely does not mean it doesn't happen. Kind of like, oh, homicide, child sexual abuse, domestic violence ...

Sylvia - posted on 02/11/2012

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My 9-year-old undoubtedly has that text in her school planner somewhere, because the school board buys them in bulk and the content is identical, AFAIK, for JK through Grade 12 (although the ones for the primary grades are in a larger format, to give the kids more room to write). I haven't seen it, though, and she certainly hasn't brought it up.



This guy is probably the only parent in the entire TDSB who actually read the stuff in the planner. Most parents don't look at them at all, and those who do are only looking at the part where the student writes in the homework assignments and the teacher writes notes home. The kids don't generally read the pre-printed stuff either. Mine, for instance, doodles right over it :P



Also, what Jen Kowtalo said.

[deleted account]

Sherri, girls in the US are indeed having mutliations done to them. It's an extremely secretive practice by some ethnic groups. Absolutely its' illegal but it's done.



And my opinion on circ does differ from yours so we'll leave it at that.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/11/2012

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In all my 36 years I never heard of it until lately. This IMO is not common and is definitely not common in any of the places I have lived in Canada. Unless we are talking male circumcision (but then that isn't FGM), which, yes is still common.... but is less common here in the Maritimes than other parts of Canada.



I don't think either my kids need to know about male circumcision either, until they have children of their own. My son is not circumcised, neither is his Dad.



If we lived in an immigration community, then yes, it may be a good topic to talk about with a young girl. Starting at the age of 4, since this is commonly the average age it is performed (especially in Africa). We don't live in an immigration community. Just like I wouldn't talk to my 6 year old about being bullied into selling or taking drugs but, if we lived in a high drug community I may, since he/she may come in contact with a thug while playing outside...



And, I forgot, girls can not be FGM in Canada, legally. However, it could happen in an immigration community by her parents... It isn't something many, if any of us are going to have any dealings with. I do not feel children in 1st world Countrie's need an in depth or even a slight understanding of any circumcision until they are much much older, like adults...

Sherri - posted on 02/11/2012

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@Jen Genital mutilation? what if you're dealing with a girl/boy who has had that happen to them and had no idea it was wrong. they might be inspired to go to the teacher for help. It's not unheard of to have it happen in the US or Canada or the UK. It's more often than not done by the mothers and kids are scared to object or they're told they simply can't object.



so a boy should tell his teacher if he has been circumcised???? Huh I don't understand this part of your post. Not to mention girls can not be FGM in the US.

[deleted account]

I guess once you get past the shock, it's probably something akin to explaining good/bad touch. I mean if we explain to small children what a bad touch is and it's still bad even if someone gives you money, then that's encouraging children to tell if someone does that or if they hear a friend has had that happen.



Genital mutilation? what if you're dealing with a girl/boy who has had that happen to them and had no idea it was wrong. they might be inspired to go to the teacher for help. It's not unheard of to have it happen in the US or Canada or the UK. It's more often than not done by the mothers and kids are scared to object or they're told they simply can't object.



Perhaps I might word it differently but I think the intent is likely as I've suggested.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/11/2012

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My kid at the age of 6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12 would not be allowed to have such a Day Planner. I would be marching it right back to their school and letting them know I will purchase them a Day Planner from Wal-Mart! No friggen way!



My daughter of 13, does know about prostitutes. We have had light discussion in regards to that type of lifestyle but never have we gone into depth. We never had any type of sex talk at age 6 either, we did however have talks in regards to our bodies and what happens to males versus females when hitting puberty but, even at age 6 it was still a light talk. She would have been 9 or so when we had the full out talk.



I have not talked with her about FGM and don't plan on it unless she comes to me, I would be more than willing then to research the topic with her. Otherwise, this is something she may or may not come across in her years. I don't see any need to discuss it with her (unless she comes to me), we don't live in a place where this would happen to her or anybody she would be in contact with. It is good to be aware of the world around us but this type of awareness can be left to find out when you are older, much older...

Jodi - posted on 02/11/2012

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OMG, most parents havn't had the sex talk with their kids yet at 6 years old! Or just the BARE basics if they have! Shouldn't we start out positive with the sex talk, I mean, these are relatively fragile little minds here, prone to imagining worse things than they hear. What if you havn't had the sex talk with your child, because you don't feel like forcing the issue and at this age, (IMO) it's okay to wait until it's brought up, then they see this and the first sex talk you have to have is about genital mutilation and rape and prostitution?!



Put it in a highschool planner, maybe even junior high, buta 1st graders planner?! Ridiculous! They should be reading about The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, not this stuff. As parents, we get to choose to a certain extent what our children are exposed to, and this totally violates that right by saying "Here, WE think you need to have THIS sex talk with your kid...so we'll plant the seed, you water it and watch it kill a part of your child's innocence."

[deleted account]

Age appropriate is how i feel.In this case so not age appropriate.I would not of wanted to know at 6-7 about these issues.I certainly don't want my 7 year old knowing them also.



Also firstly which my daughters school does, they respect us as the primary educators of our kids.They have to ask for permission to teach our children about sex education etc.We have the choice to teach them ourselves or allow the school.If we don't want them thought at all, its up to us.Pg movies can't be watched as its not parental guidance if were not there.I found that one a bit much.

Becky - posted on 09/15/2011

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I'd be going through the day planners and crossing those days out in black ink! No, I do not think my 6 year olds need to know about those things! Eventually, yes, they should be aware of what goes on in the world, but that is not appropriate information for a 6 year old. I don't even want my 6 year old boys to know what a clitoris is yet!
We were telling Cole a little bit about the little boy who was kidnapped in BC the other night, because it was on the news, and I was concerned that even that might be too much for him. (doesn't seem to have been though.)

Carolee - posted on 09/15/2011

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Yes, people should be aware of these things... when they are old enough!

JuLeah - posted on 09/15/2011

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Hummm, well it is not the sex issue because this has nothing to do with sex. This is about power and control and dominance



Sex is fun. If someone is really not having fun, odds are it's not really sex ... rape is sex and not about sex



What I'd not want my child to understand - ever really - is that humans can/will/do this to one another



Of course she will someday understand the depths to which we can sink, but even at my age, this makes me sick and there are images in my head I wish were not there

America3437 - posted on 09/15/2011

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Not sure I wold even feel comfortable discussing FGM or hookers with my 17 year old defiently not with a six year old!

Tracey - posted on 09/15/2011

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You may find that the school buys their planners from a company that produces identical planners for all age groups. Complain to the head teacher and see if they can buy them from somewhere else.
What is supposed to happen on these days? Is there a class discussion... "now kids put your colouring away we need to talk about hookers?"

Sherri - posted on 09/14/2011

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Sorry I typically don't flip about things easily but I would be BULL. No 6 yr old needs to know about such things. I don't know about many teens or adults that even really need to know about such things.

Jenni - posted on 09/14/2011

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Funny enough, I did learn about FGM when I was 14. I had an inschool suspension in the library for skipping class. I read about FGM in Africa in a National Geographics book.



At 14 I could understand it. I could understand the horrors these women must go through. Some forcibly having their clitorus removed to prevent infedility. Or the hood of the clitorus which leads to daily pain without its protective layer. These are things at 14 I could fully comprehend. At 6? I don't think so.

Lissa - posted on 09/14/2011

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lol Heather, the tooth did save me because discussing the tooth fairy visiting was then far more important :)

Michele - posted on 09/14/2011

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Wow. I have been having discussions with my daughter and son about sex-related issues at an increasing level of complexity since they were little. I haven't talked about FGM with my 14 yo daughter, though. I have talked about prositution thanks to a Vegas trip for my grandpa's 80th birthday party. She was 11, I think. Maybe 12. I suppose that I should, but it isn't as relevant to her life directly at this point.

Lissa - posted on 09/14/2011

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It can definitely wait! Recently my seven year old asked me what a whore was! I was totally dumbstruck, this isn't even a word we would use. As we moved recently she has only spent time with myself,husband and a friend we have known for years who would never use that word and we would never watch a tv programme with them that would include it, I can only assume she heard it from another pupil. Luckily as I was pondering what on earth to say her tooth fell out and it was forgotten.
Children do not need to know about issues such as this at such a young age, they worry enough about life and the world without adding this dimension to it.
I am very open and will answer questions they have at an age appropriate level but this is not age appropriate.

Jenni - posted on 09/14/2011

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I'm pretty open as well, but these are rather complex subjects to have discussions about with a 6 year old. Far too early imo. Definitely not age appropriote sex discussions.

I think I'd save these sort of topics for highschool and college aged students.

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