COLUMBIA — Testing students’ readiness for first grade and requiring prescriptions for meth-making medicines are among the recommendations of a committee that advocates for South Carolina’s children.
The joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children released its priorities for 2013 last week. Its wide array of recommendations focus on reducing childhood obesity, injuries and trauma, as well as improving school readiness and increasing immunization coverage.
“They all deserve serious consideration and action in this legislative session,” said Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, a committee member.
Recommendations range from requiring lifeguards at summer camps to creating a tiered penalty for children under 18 who text sexually explicit messages. Anti-sexting legislation has previously died in the Legislature. Currently, a minor could be prosecuted for a felony for disseminating such photos.
Fair introduced legislation last week that would require a prescription to buy cold and allergy medicine that contains pseudoephedrine, which is used to create methamphetamine.
Officers say laws that put the medicine behind the counter, to limit bulk purchases, have not stemmed the meth epidemic, as production morphed from large-scale labs to small, totable batches.
The committee said the drug takes a serious toll on children, in exposure to toxic chemicals and in the trauma of addicted family members. Its members said requiring a prescription will stop the source.
Opponents were quick to pounce on the measure. They include the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which contends that putting more burdens on patients is not the right approach to fighting meth.
As for school readiness, the committee did not address Democrats’ years-long efforts to expand full-day 4-year-old kindergarten statewide. Instead, it said the state needs to increase the effectiveness of existing 4-year-old programs for poor children, and put more focus on services for children from birth to age 3.