Although some form of sex education is part of the curriculum at many schools, it remains a controversial issue in several countries, particularly with regard to the age at which children should start receiving such education, the amount of detail which is revealed, and topics dealing with human sexuality and behavior, such as safe sex practices and masturbation, and sexual ethics.
The existence of AIDS has given a new sense of urgency to the topic of sex education. In many nations, where AIDS is at epidemic levels, sex education is seen by most scientists as a vital public health strategy.
Rousseau set out his views on education in Émile, a semi-fictitious work detailing the growth of a young boy of that name, presided over by Rousseau himself. He brings him up in the countryside, where, he believes, humans are most naturally suited, rather than in a city, where we only learn bad habits, both physical and intellectual. The aim of education, Rousseau says, is to learn how to live, and this is accomplished by following a guardian who can point the way to good living.