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Education Reporter
South Carolina Kindergartners Undergo Genital Exams

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AIKEN, SC - For the past two years, students have been given school physicals that include "brief, visual inspection of the genital area" of kindergarten children. The exams were performed by school nurses under the school district's contract with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

According to Rebekah Sutherland, a candidate for South Carolina State Superintendent of Education, "The parents had to sign many papers at the kindergarten orientation. They were hurried, and no explanations were given. Virtually all the parents gave consent without knowing that genital exams would be given to all children." One parent commented that this kind of testing "should be handled by a trained physician in a hospital, clinic or doctor's office, not in the public schools."

The exams are authorized under the Goals 2000 goal #1, "School Readiness," and by the state document, Putting Children and Families First. "Time lines for implementing each of the national goals are included in this document," says Sutherland, "yet most legislators have never read it. Our Governor, David Beasley, has worked to implement Goals 2000. However, the Republican platform in South Carolina states: 'Along with our national Republican leadership, we repudiate the new national goals, termed Goals 2000, and join the call for the abolition of the U. S. Department of Education.'"

A report distributed to state school superintendents from the DHEC last year included a cover letter that stated: "This report confirms the need to establish the School Health Nurse Program with state funding to assure that ALL school districts and ALL CHILDREN in South Carolina receive preventive health services. "

A letter to the editor of the Aiken Standard newspaper summed up the position of many parents on the genital exams by stating: "This is outrageous behavior by a public school system." The authors advised parents to raise such questions as: "Who will be the 'medical expert' to perform the school medical exams? What will happen when a parent is falsely accused of molestation? Why is the school looking at kindergartners? Is there an agenda to broaden the examination in a few years?"

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