Youth Services Law

Showing 34 posts in Mandated Reporter.

Mandated Reporting Age of Consent

Posted In Mandated Reporter

Group of young teenagers

An incident from Vermont illustrates a not-uncommon conundrum for mandated reporters, deciding when to report sexual activity by minors above the age of consent. The pastor of a church learned of consensual sexual activity between a minor in the church and the church’s youth pastor. Because the girl was 16 year old, the age of consent in Vermont, the pastor’s lawyer initially told him that he did not need to report it.

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Mandated Reporter: Sexting Laws

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Teenager sitting on bed texting

A recent court ruling continues the trend of insanity surrounding teenage sexting. A 16-year-old girl performed oral sex on a male friend, and one of them videoed it. The girl later sent the video to two friends by text message. When she later fell out with one of the friends, he showed the video to a school police officer. The prosecutor charged her with distributing child pornography, and Maryland’s highest appellate court recently affirmed the conviction.

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Mandated Reporting: Another Example of What Not To Do

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USA Swimming is caught up on the same allegations that roiled USA Gymnastics. An explosive newspaper report and lawsuit allege that USA Swimming covered for pedophile coaches. The group blamed the problems on the prior administration, but like clockwork, the lawsuit recently added USA Swimming as a defendant. According to the lawyers’ press release about the amended complaint, USA Swimming disregarded other reports of abuse of another athlete by another coach. I’m not certain how the other reports relate to the alleged abuse of the named plaintiff or whether the amended complaint is accurate; however, the claims in the press release offer another case study of how not to handle mandated reporting responsibilities.

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Mandated Reporting and the Immunity Myth

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Child in terror sitting down with hands covering face

The most recent APSAC Advisor has an excellent article about an important issue — the myth that mandated reporters are immune from liability for reporting their suspicions of child abuse. Every training I have ever attended has reassured mandated reporters that they will face no repercussions from making a report. That information is flat-out wrong — the system does not have the protections it needs for mandated reporters.

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Mandated Reporting is Not a Cure-All

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Child in foster care

Minnesota Public Radio recently had an excellent report on the problems of homeless youth. One aspect that struck me was the unintentional consequences of mandated reporter policies:

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Mandated Reporting: Unsupervised Children

Posted In Internal Investigations, Mandated Reporter

Three happy children running outside

One vexing question in the mandated reporter area is when to report children who appear to have no adults supervising them. It is more difficult than most situations of abuse or neglect because there is a growing body of research that children need unsupervised time to develop into psychologically healthy adults.

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Mandated Reporting: Risks of Ignoring A Child

Posted In Internal Investigations, Mandated Reporter

Child yelling through megaphone

From Connecticut comes this story of a former high school teacher charged with failing to make a mandated report of child sexual abuse two years ago. According to the warrant, a student told him that she had been forced into sex at a party in 2016, but he failed to relay the report to any authorities. His explanation to the investigating officer was that the girl’s report “was vague.”

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Sexting and Horseplay and Sex, Oh My! — Teens and Mandated Reporting

Posted In Internal Investigations, Mandated Reporter, Schools, Youth Camps

Group of teenagers texting.

Organizations that work with teenagers face questions of sexual behavior in several different situations. The most common issues that I see are (1) “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit photos to each other, (2) horseplay that turns sexual, and (3) consensual sex. Whether these require a report to authorities or only an internal response depends on several different circumstances.

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“No-Touch” Policies Harm Children

Posted In Internal Investigations, Mandated Reporter, Schools

Child crying next to teacher

I have heard many cautious lawyers and more than one self-proclaimed expert claim that elementary school teachers and child care workers should never touch their students. These “no-touch” policies have gone so far as to prevent kids from hugging one another on campuses, and even made adults afraid to help kids apply sunscreen or band-aids for fear that they could be accused of inappropriate touching. These policies actually harm children, because they ignore the fact that appropriate human touch is a healthy and necessary part of growth and development.

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Childhood Play and Mandated Reporting

Posted In Internal Investigations, Mandated Reporter

Children playing outside

One question that I often hear from child care centers is how to respond to sexual play between children. As usual, the question is “it depends.” Some types of sexual play are normal and developmentally appropriate, and warrant nothing more than redirection and teaching about social norms. Other types can be signals of sexual abuse and require more formal intervention. We don’t want to miss signals of abuse, but neither do we want to overreact to normal child development.

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