Mandatory Reporting & Pregnancy Centers //
Mandatory reporting is required by law and means that certain people are responsible to notify government authorities of any individual or situation in which there is suspected child abuse or child neglect. All states in the United States have statutes in the place for mandated reporting.
Persons required to report may vary slightly from state to state, but it is any occupation that has frequent contact with children. For example, teachers, teacher’s aides, physicians/nurses, dentists, therapists, social workers, clergy, employees of day camps/youth centers are all mandated reporters.
Reporters must identify circumstances in which he/she “suspects that a child has been abused or neglected” or “when the reporter sees a child being subjected to harm or knows of conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child” must be reported to authorities (criminal.findlaw.com). If professionals or institutions fail to report these types of situations, there are criminal penalties in place.
Mandatory Reporting & Sexual Activity – In Massachusetts the legal age of consent is 16 years old. This means that at this age the individual is considered old enough to consent, or agree to, participate in sexual activity with a partner. Individuals age 15 and younger by law are not old enough to consent. Any sexual activity with a child age 15 and under could result in charges called statutory rape. Often sexual intercourse with children age 15 and younger is coerced or forced, as in abusive situations or human trafficking. This is why professionals are required to report any evidence of sexual activity occurring in under age children.
Many times in pregnancy centers and clinics, patients who are under the age of 16 come in for pregnancy or STD testing. The clinic should abide by HIPAA confidentiality guidelines, which means that your parent(s) or anyone else will not be told that you are a patient at the clinic or pregnant. However, this does not apply for mandatory reporting laws. If you are a sexually active teen, under the age of 16. the clinic is required by law to report it.
After is has been reported, it is the responsibility of the Department of Children and Families to follow up and determine if it is in fact a situation of abuse and if there are other individuals or institutions who have also filed reports for that individual.