Members of the Parent/Teacher Association for St. Barbara’s Catholic School in Scarborough, Ontario, meeting in early December 1989, expressed serious misgivings about a sexual abuse prevention program introduced by the Metro (Toronto) Separate School Board (MSSB).

The MSSB’s Preventive Education Program (PEP) aims to teach children, as young as possible, what sexual abuse is and how to deal with it.  But a swelling number of psychologists, educators and parents contend that abuse education produces false charges, suspicious children and family strain.  A story that appeared in the December 1989 issue of The Interim prompted discussion of the abuse prevention program at the PTA meeting said Association member, Hilary Ribero, a professional accountant and father of four.

Ribero, his wife, Vivian, and other PTA members were especially concerned about the lip-service that the board pays to parental rights.

“With something that is potentially damaging to the individual growth of the child and to his relationship with his family, I would have expected a lot of preliminary discussion and participation by the primary educators of the child.  We weren’t given this opportunity,” Ribero stated.

At the close of the meeting, St. Barbara’s PTA tabled a resolution that before any program dealing with sexual abuse or sex education is introduced at the school, the parents wanted advance notice.

“But not just advance notice,” Ribero added.  “We want to actively participate and say whether it is ok as it stands, whether it would be ok with modifications, or whether it would not be acceptable at all because of the philosophy or the format or the skill of the teacher.”