"The fact that our state requires sex education is a positive," said Forrest Alton. "At the same time, I think we have to acknowledge that the world young people are living in today versus the world they were growing up in 25 years ago is fundamentally different."
Alton is CEO of the SC Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy. He said sex education needs an updated approach when it's taught in classrooms and it should not focus solely on abstinence since statistics show 47% of high schoolers have had sex.
"Young people are constantly bombarded with messages about sex whether it's MTV or the Internet or music videos or whatever the case," said Alton. "So, we don't have a choice anymore whether or not young people are going to learn about sex, we do have a choice of who the instructor is."
A new state bill would require all health education teachers to be certified.
Representative James Smith, one of the co-sponsors, said the curriculum should be streamlined so every student gets accurate and realistic information.
"What we've found is we don't have accountability to make sure everyone is getting the same quality and same level of information," said Smith.
Teen pregnancy has declined by nearly 40% in South Carolina the last two decades.
The State Superintendent said that proves the current legislation is working. His spokesman said the new bill would encourage kids to have safe sex instead of saving sex for marriage.
"What this bill would say is, 'It's okay to have casual sex, one night stands outside of marriage and talk about all the std prevention you can have with that,'" said Jay Ragley with the SC Department of Education. "When you remove the context of marriage from the conversation of reproductive health, it weakens abstinence and encourages students not to engage in less risky behavior it actually encourages them to engage in more risky behavior."
Smith said abstinence would still be part of the curriculum, but it would also have a focus on contraceptives and STD prevention, not necessarily within the context of marriage.
"We want abstinence taught, contraception taught," said Smith. "Information about sexually transmitted diseases so that our students and our young people are equipped to make the decision for themselves with medically accurate information."
"It's kind of like telling students 'We don't want you to smoke,'" said Ragley. "'But if you're going to smoke, this is the way you should do it.' That's just a bad policy."
Although teen pregnancy is on the decline, South Carolina has the 11th highest teen birth rate in the nation.
"Teen pregnancy is a very complex issue and so to think that any single message is going to be appropriate for every young person in South Carolina is a little misleading," said Alton.
Supporters say the curriculum and approach need to be updated to reflect a changing culture, while opponents say the current law is working, so there's no need for change.
Thursday, July 24 2014 5:18 PM EDT2014-07-24 21:18:16 GMT
The new interchange at the intersection of highway 17 and 707 is on track to open in a few months. It will definitely improve the terrible traffic conditions at that location, but those problems couldMore >>
The new interchange at the intersection of highway 17 and 707 is on track to open in a few months. It will definitely improve the terrible traffic conditions at that location, but those problems could shift to the next traffic signal just down the road.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-24 21:15:50 GMT
After a record-setting 2013 season, the 2014 Coastal Carolina football team was voted by the league's coaches and media as the preseason favorite to win this year's conference championship.More >>
After a record-setting 2013 season, the 2014 edition of the Coastal Carolina football team was voted by the league's coaches and media as the preseason favorite to win this year's conference championship, it was announced Thursday at the annual Big South Football Media Day at the Charlotte Marriott City Center.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-24 21:15:07 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Two of WMBF News TV Personalities have been chosen to receive the Grand Strand Happening's "People's Choice" award. The second annual competition named Anchor Michael Maely,More >>
Two of WMBF News TV Personalities have been chosen to receive the Grand Strand Happening's "People's Choice" award.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 3:44 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:44:27 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Flagging operations will be held on Highway 707 near Big Block Road, Thursday. The operations will begin at 8 p.m. from the Post Office to Foster Avenue, for asphalt work. ItMore >>
Flagging operations will be held on Highway 707 near Big Block Road, Thursday.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 3:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:38:41 GMT
A Brunswick County man is behind bars for his alleged involvement in three separate charges of sexual assault on a female. Brunswick County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Denzel Jamal Hill, from Leland. HillMore >>
The bond has increased to over $7 million for a Brunswick County man who was arrested and charged for his alleged involvement in three separate charges of sexual assault on a female. More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 2:58 PM EDT2014-07-24 18:58:22 GMT
HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - The grand opening for the newly renovated Teen Center at the Hartsville Boys and Girls club is today at 4 p.m. The renovations came to fruition with the support of One Hartsville;More >>
The grand opening for the newly renovated Teen Center at the Hartsville Boys and Girls club is today at 4 p.m.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 2:23 PM EDT2014-07-24 18:23:42 GMT
SOCASTEE (WMBF) - WMBF News is at the scene of a car crash in Socastee that damaged several cars at Socastee Auto Sales. We are working to learn more about what happened. Stick with WMBF News for updates. CopyrightMore >>
A woman will be charged with DUI after she allegedly crashed a car in Socastee that damaged four other cars at Socastee Auto Sales. More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:16 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:16:43 GMT
Brunswick County Sheriff's Office detectives are searching for 16-year-old Haley Brook Clark from Ocean Isle Beach. Clark was last seen Tuesday at around 11 p.m. at 1897 Camelot Dr. in Ocean Isle Beach.More >>
Brunswick County Sheriff's Office detectives are searching for 16-year-old Haley Brook Clark from Ocean Isle Beach.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 12:50 PM EDT2014-07-24 16:50:34 GMT
Armed robbers have hit several convenience stores in Shelby and Cleveland County within the past three weeks. Police believe the crimes may be connected. The latest holdup happened early Wednesday morningMore >>
Police say the latest holdup happened just after 2 a.m. Wednesday at the One Stop Food Store on Fallston Road. They are asking for your help to find the suspect.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 11:19 AM EDT2014-07-24 15:19:12 GMT
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) A project aimed at getting the attention of big industry investors is taking off in Florence County. Construction on a new industry ready building is nearing completion. Economic leadersMore >>
A project aimed at getting the attention of big industry investors is taking off in Florence County. Construction on a new industry ready building is nearing completion.More >>