Oregon Attorney General issues new guidance on child abuse reporting, answering a long standing question for K-12 and higher education employees.
New Guidance Issued
Tuesday, September 11th, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum issued an opinion from her office, answering whether those who are mandatory reporters of child abuse, are required to report non-harmful sexual conduct between minors close in age. The answer: no.
Many schools and school districts have struggled with how to train their employees on the matter of mandatory reporting when it came to minors involved in consensual sex with other minors. The Attorney General's opinion, which can be read in full HERE, outlines that although Oregon law constitutes minors unable to consent to sexual contact, an exception exists if the parties are less than three years apart in age.
Need a Refresher?
Under ORS 419B.005(5)(c) "school employee, including an employee of a higher education institution" are named as mandatory reporters of child abuse. The opinion issued by the Attorney General highlites that the intent of the statute was to protect children from "harmful conduct," rather than to overreach into non-harmful conduct. This is further supported by the legislature's drafting of the "age gap defense" which is codified in ORS 163.345. Schools should ensure that all employees are recieving adequate training on their reporting obligations.
The issuance of this opinion aligns with what we know to be best practice for both K-12 and institutions of higher education. This opinion only further propels Oregon in being a leader in our prevention and response efforts in our schools. Students are more likely to reach out to disclose abuse and seek support if they know there are trusted adults on campus or at school that they can trust and ask questions of. Further defining the scope of mandatory reporting laws in Oregon helps us to better inform students, empowering them to share information in the future.
K-12 Mandatory Reporting Online Course (FREE) - Oregon K-12 schools and districts will soon have access to free online training for all employees outlining reporting obligations and how to respond to a student disclosure. Contact to get more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
Responsible Employee and Mandatory Reporting Online Course - We offer customizeable online courses for staff, faculty, graduate students, and student employees outlining their reporting obligations and how to respond to disclosures. Each course can be tailored to your school's policies and incorporate your branding. Contact us for a proposal and quote email@example.com.