HICKS COLUMN: Too much teen sex, not enough education
It's just about impossible to be reasonable in this state.
Summerville lawmaker Jenny Horne is pushing a bill through the Statehouse that would update sex education in South Carolina schools — seeing as how we're about 25 years behind the times.
You'd think this would be a no-brainer. Right now, the state ranks third nationally in terms of sexually transmitted diseases, and half the cases involve teens. And every year, more than 6,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 get pregnant. We're No. 11 on that list, and it doesn't include the girls younger than 15 who get pregnant.
And you know there are some because, well, this is South Carolina.
State taxpayers spend nearly $200 million a year in Medicaid costs related to these teen pregnancies. Serious money.
But when Horne and some similarly sane colleagues suggest teaching kids medically accurate information about their bodies, what do they get?
They get baloney about condoms and contraceptives, and how this will weaken the state's focus on abstinence.
And that's just from the state superintendent of education.
Less risky behavior
As much as this state loves the 19th century, it's time to stop living there.
Of course no one wants to think about teens having sex, but they do it. Quite a bit — no matter what the sugar babies tell their sugar daddies on that website.
Teaching proper sex education is not going to put it on anybody's mind. Rest assured, it's already there.
Horne says the idea is simply to cut down on many of our state's social ills through education. What a novel idea.
“The scientific evidence suggests if kids understand their bodies, they are less likely to engage in risky behavior,” says Horne, a Republican.
To do anything else, Horne says, is a disservice. She is absolutely right.
Unfortunately, using science, logic or reason is a sure way to get your legislation killed in this state.
Et tu, Mrs. Cleaver?
The South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is trying to get us off the top of some of these bad national ranking lists.
It supports this legislation because, well, it makes sense. Who can argue with medically accurate lessons, or teachers who are actually certified to teach this sort of material?
Well, Mick Zais apparently.
Look, Horne's legislation is all about abstinence, and so is the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. But they aren't living in fantasyland. It's happening a lot. Rep. B.R. Skelton, Horne's co-author, notes that teen pregnancy often leads kids to drop out of school, work at minimum-wage jobs and rely on the government to make ends meet.
In a state where people detest that sort of lifestyle, you'd think they would do anything to cut down on instances of it. Sorry, showing 1950s sex-ed films isn't going to fix anything, Mrs. Cleaver.
So the Legislature needs to get off its duff and pass Horne's bill.
If it doesn't, all those poor South Carolina teens out there are just going to have to keep learning about sex the way they have for years.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.