"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.
Saturday, March 8 2014 1:01 PM EST2014-03-08 18:01:00 GMT
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Area students are invited to attend a performance to be held at Francis Marion University's Performing Arts Center on March 13. The performance will consist of two showings of theMore >>
Area students are invited to attend a performance to be held at Francis Marion University's Performing Arts Center on March 13.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 12:57 PM EST2014-03-08 17:57:28 GMT
Police say a Berkeley County woman who drove a van with her three kids into the ocean off Daytona Beach had reported that her husband sexually assaulted her in South Carolina about a week before the TuesdayMore >>
Bond has been set at $1.2 million for a Berkeley County woman who was arrested on Friday after authorities say she intentionally tried to kill her three children by driving a van into the ocean at Daytona Beach.More >>
Foreign ministry officials in Rome and Vienna confirm that names of two nationals listed on the manifest of the missing Malaysian airlines flight match passports reported stolen in Thailand.More >>
Foreign ministry officials in Rome and Vienna confirmed Saturday that names of two nationals listed on the manifest of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight match passports reported stolen in Thailand.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 12:37 PM EST2014-03-08 17:37:29 GMT
COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - The Latta Lady Vikings have won their third state title in school history after defeating St. Joseph's ------ in the SCHSL Class 1A State Championship. The Lady Vikings took a 34-19More >>
Championship is third ever in Lady Vikings' program history.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 11:52 AM EST2014-03-08 16:52:43 GMT
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence Police say they have arrested a man wanted in the state of Maryland at the Up-Town Motel. He was taken into custody Friday night. WMBF News is working to get the detailsMore >>
Florence Police say they have arrested a man at a motel, located in Florence. He was wanted in the state of Maryland for a possible child abduction. More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 11:19 AM EST2014-03-08 16:19:49 GMT
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The intersection where Highway 17 meets Lake Arrowhead is under construction this weekend. The construction is a part of the five-year project to replace the sewer systemMore >>
The intersection where Highway 17 meets Lake Arrowhead is under construction this weekend. The construction is a part of the five-year project to replace the sewer system underneath Highway 17.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 11:03 AM EST2014-03-08 16:03:44 GMT
Harvest Hope Food Bank: Source:Facebook
FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) –Mark your calendars, for Mac Madness, a food competition, which will be coming to downtown Florence on April 11. Mac Madness is an event that will include mac and cheese dishesMore >>
Mark your calendars, for Mac Madness, which will be coming to downtown Florence on April 11.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:07 AM EST2014-03-08 14:07:25 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC - We are seeing some much improved weather for this weekend!Temperatures today with start on the cool-side but quickly warm into the middle 60s under mostly sunny skies. The warming trendMore >>
We are seeing some much improved weather for this weekend!More >>