Inclusive Sexuality Education for Children in the Early Years: Perceptions of Family Resource Centre Staff

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Martinello, Emily
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Children’s sexual development is often ignored in developmental discourse, which can impact a child’s healthy sexual development, inclusion in sexuality education, and their risk of experiencing sexual abuse. There exists in the early years an opportunity to focus on foundational knowledge that will contribute to healthy sexual development across the lifespan. Education and intervention can help to address each risk-reduction (i.e., focus on the potential victim), prevention (i.e., focus on the potential perpetrator), and healthy relationships. However, sexuality education often reinforces hegemony, reflecting elements that serve to reinforce disparities in race, age, ability, gender, sexual identity, and access to knowledge. Whereas family resource centres build family capacity and engage with other community supports in enhancing child development, their perspectives were sought with regards to the provision of family-centered, inclusive sexuality education in the early years. Five family resource centre employees completed an online survey to answer the question of how family resource centres are supporting families in their provision of inclusive sexuality education to their young children. Results indicated gaps existed in opportunities for both pre-service training and ongoing professional development on the topic of children’s sexual development in order to best support families with their children’s healthy sexual development. Furthermore, though resources and materials were indicated, it would appear that there is a need for more developmentally appropriate and inclusive sexuality education materials and resources.
sexuality education, sexual development, risk reduction, prevention