Sex education

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In many countries, the provision of sex education has become an important function for schools and public health providers. The general principle behind sex education is to provide information on reproduction and sexual health to people before they start having sexual intercourse. There are a variety of different approaches to sex education, and there is, in many places, a lot of political controversy about the provision of sex education.

Comprehensive sex education usually includes teaching about the biological and health aspects of reproduction, the use of contraception, ways to avoid sexually-transmitted infections, legal aspects of sex, and emotional and social aspects - how to avoid being pressured into sex, how to defuse bullying around virginity and how to deal with the sometimes embarrassing topics related to sexuality.

In the more conservative parts of the United States, many people advocate for abstinence-only sex education, which consists, as the title suggests, of sex education where students are taught that the best approach to sexuality is to abstain from it, usually until either one is married, or one is in a long-term committed relationship. Critics of abstinence-only education point out that it is ineffective: most teenagers are sexually active, and simply telling them to abstain from sex means that when they do have sex, they may not use contraceptives and practice other safe sex measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies and dangerous sexually-transmitted disease transmission.