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Education is the best way to prevent sexual health problems such as STIs and unintended pregnancies. However, there is a lot of debate over the best way to educate young people about their sexual health.
Sex education provides young people with the knowledge and tools that they need to protect their mental and physical health. An effective sex education policy should help people to manage their emotions and enable them to protect themselves against STIs and accidental pregnancies using contraception.
Early sex education has become even more important due to the sexualisation of the media and the easy access that many children now have to the internet. Even very young children can be exposed to sexual content that could distort their view of relationships. Sex education can counteract this by encouraging more realistic views of sex and developing the skills that are needed to build a good relationship.
Sex education isn’t something that has to be done in one go, at a specific age. It is much better to allow children to learn about sex and relationships gradually and as they are ready.
Discussions about sex education often focus on girls, since they are the ones who can become pregnant. Girls also tend to mature emotionally and begin puberty a little earlier than boys, so they may be ready to start talking about sex and relationships a bit earlier. However, it is important not to generalise too much. Every child is unique and they should learn about sex when they are ready.
It is also important to remember that educating girls about sex isn’t enough. Boys also need to know how to protect themselves and their partners, especially as they may be in same-sex relationships in the future. Both partners need to know how to build trust, communicate with each other, and develop a safe and respectful sexual relationship.
You should also remember that it’s never too late for sex education, so it’s important to talk to older children too. You should also educate yourself if you feel like you don’t know enough about sexual health and contraception. For example, you might want to visit a doctor for contraception advice.