Fully Alive brought up to speed for Internet age

  • June 12, 2009
TORONTO - Teen dating and online relationships will be among new topics in the revised family life textbooks for Ontario Catholic elementary students.

The Fully Alive textbooks for Grades 6 to 8 students are part of the updated second edition of the Ontario bishops’ family life program which starts at Grade 1. The original texts were published from 1988 to 1992, with the Grade 6 revised edition expected this fall and the final two revisions within the next few years. Earlier revisions were launched two years ago.

The Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops’ update of the family life program is a way to keep up with what students are already hearing from the media about sexuality and relationships, said Sylvia Santin, the textbook’s general editor.

“The Internet introduced students to an awful lot of topics they really aren’t ready to handle,” Santin said.

It’s timely to have new guidelines, for instance on Internet pornography, to help answer students’ questions, she added.

Santin said the upcoming Grades 7 and 8 textbooks will now address the issues of dating and early sexual activity which the previous edition did not include. The texts will also examine online behaviour and Internet relationships.

But the program’s main theme remains the same: the idea that human sexuality is a gift from God.

“Sex is not as casual or insignificant as some people think it is,” Santin said, adding the program reflects church teaching on the theology of the body. This teaching is based upon the late Pope John Paul II’s lectures which promote chastity before marriage and natural family planning.

Although Fully Alive textbooks are not mandatory, many Ontario Catholic schools have adopted the program into the curriculum, including the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Ralph Peter, the board’s religion and family life co-ordinator, said one of the program’s strengths has been teaching students about healthy relationships, including the importance of chastity before marriage.

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