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We see it everywhere we look. On the cover of Cosmopolitan or Men's Health. In the lyrics of the latest Lil Wayne song. In TV sitcoms and box office hits. But do we ever really talk about it?

Sex. Something everyone knows about, but few ever really discuss. It's one of the biggest taboos in this country; a word that brings controversy wherever it goes. The term comes with many different meanings and people all over the country assign to it different moral and social values.

My question is this: in a society so saturated with sexual imagery, why is everyone afraid to actually openly discuss intercourse?

Sure, people will sprinkle innuendos or crude language into their daily conversations, maybe make a lewd comment here or there, but sex is still something that is only ever discussed in privacy, usually surrounded by secrecy.

So who cares? What if nobody actually wants to talk about sex? Well, I'm here to tell you if you're content with just watching steamy scenes in the theater or rapping along with sexy lyrics on the radio, you could actually be putting yourself, and your loved ones, at a disadvantage.

According to a recent New York Times article, sex education varies from state to state, so across the country, many young boys and girls are receiving drastically different information about their bodies and sexual relationships. In some schools, it is only discussed a week out of a year; in others, students receive information from kindergarten through high school. With so many gaps to fill, it falls on parents to educate their children about sex.

I know from personal experience that sometimes parents can fall short of providing a complete understanding. When I received "the talk," it was brief, and mainly focused on how my own body would change. Even later on, when I entered high school, it was a subject that my parents ignored. I think for them it felt like if they didn't talk about it, then it would never happen.

By keeping silent about sex and the consequences, they weren't protecting me. There was so much left for me to learn. About HIV and HPV. About birth control and contraception. About the emotions, fears and anxieties that come with becoming intimate in that way.

I was left to educate myself through magazine articles and Google searches where I was constantly looking over my shoulder. When I brought it up with friends, they would giggle and avoid the question, either too embarrassed to share with me or just as clueless as I was.

Uneducated kids quickly turn into uneducated adults. They don't know the difference between sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia. They don't know which type of contraception works best with their bodies or lifestyles. They don't know how long it takes after sex for a pregnancy test to work effectively.

Ultimately, they're left playing a dangerous guessing game.

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Deanna Ferrante is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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