It could’ve been the premise to an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. On May 10, parents of students at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Surrey received a letter from the school principal, warning them about a Facebook contest designed by grade 11 and 12 boys to see who could sleep with the most grade 8 girls. The boys called it the Little Girl Slayers Club: a contest that sees sex with younger girls as a way of adding a notch to a boy’s belt.
While it’s unclear how many students were involved or what activities actually took place, the underlying view of young girls as objects to be used and tossed aside is unsettling enough on its own.
Fortunately, the school took the right steps to address this particular situation. They brought in the RCMP to talk to the boys about the illegality of sleeping with someone under the age of 14. Perhaps more importantly, they brought in the organization SafeTeen to hold meetings and workshops with the grade 8 girls. SafeTeen founder Anita Roberts says her group “teach[es] them to listen to their intuition and to wake up to the moment…Not to be in denial or to ignore it, but to face it, and to speak their truth.” Roberts told the Toronto Sun that the girls she interviewed were more angry than scared, a good sign given that “anger is the emotion that tells them they have been violated.”
So the immediate problem has been responded to, but this incident should be a wakeup call for the Ministry of Education and schools across BC to take a hard look at our sex ed programs. Are kids getting comprehensive, consistent sex education at an early age that not only informs about the risks, but also empowers students to make positive decisions about sex and relationships?
Currently, sex education in BC is inconsistent, according to a 2004 report by Options for Sexual Health. Using Health Canada’s guidelines for sexual health education, Options brought together youth, public health practitioners, educators, and representatives from government and non-profits to discuss the state of sex ed in BC.
Differences in training for educators, a lack of discussion of sexual orientation, and the tendency for sex ed to be taught in one-shot sessions with no opportunity for follow-up are also issues that were brought up and still need to be addressed. One of the key themes that emerged was concern about the narrow scope of the classes: “All voices expressed concern that the focus of sexual health education is too narrow, too risk-dominated, and lacking in emphasis on relationship and decision-making skills.”
Education after a problem has occurred, as in the situation in Surrey, is definitely a positive step. But if we want to prevent future Little Girl Slayers Clubs, schools need to do sex education starting younger and in a way that tells students of all genders that girls are not notches to be added to your belt.