Nys dating laws
New York laws about "statutory rape" and child abuse reporting are confusing.
This list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) describes when to make a report to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (the reporting hotline for child abuse and neglect) based on a minor's sexual activity.
New York Social Services Law immunizes good faith mandatory reporters from being charged with a crime.30 However, a conflicting New York Penal Law makes it a misdemeanor if a person makes a false report of "an alleged occurrence or condition of child abuse or maltreatment which did not in fact occur or exist" to the Statewide Central Register either directly or indirectly.31 While this statute seems to state that it can be a misdemeanor to file a false report regardless of situations where the suspicion of abuse was reasonable and the report was made in good faith, no court has addressed this contradiction and it appears that the law was not originally intended to apply to mandated reporters.32 Therefore, it is unlikely that a good faith mandatory reporter would be prosecuted, even if the report turned out to be unfounded. "Persons legally responsible" for a child's care include a child's guardian, custodian (any person regularly found in the child's household) or other person responsible for the child's care at the relevant time.
A cautious mandatory reporter may wish to consult an attorney before making a report.
OCFS further clarifies two points: (a) the mere reoccurrence of the sexual activity "does not in and of itself," mean that the parent's response is inappropriate or that a report is required and (b) a parent's support of or involvement in the teen's accessing sexual or reproductive health care services may be a reasonable response, and therefore does not by itself give to a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect. The court found that while statutory rape laws serve a strong social policy purpose, child abuse liability cannot reasonably be extended to the parents of all sexually active minors.20 The court extensively discussed the policy reasons against imposing particular moral or religious values under the pretext of child protection, and the practical problems involved in convicting thousands of parents-including responsible and involved parents-of child abuse because of their children's sexual activity.21 The court concluded that any abuse or neglect charges should be "limited to those parents who fail to intervene in sexual relationships of which they have personal knowledge."22 In summary, parents of sexually active or pregnant minors should not automatically be reported for suspected child abuse or neglect, even if they know of such activity. Should a mandatory reporter file a child abuse report against the parents of a sexually active minor solely on the basis of the child's sexual activity with an older partner? In order to report a possible case of child abuse or neglect, a mandatory reporter must have a reasonable suspicion that such abuse or neglect is occurring.23 Because courts have found that failure to prevent a child's voluntary sexual activity does not constitute abuse under New York law, this situation in and of itself cannot give rise to a reasonable suspicion of child abuse. While the age of the minor may be taken into account in determining whether sex was voluntary, a conclusion should not be based solely upon the age difference between the partners. In , the court concluded that the six-year age difference between the 14-year-old minor and her 20-year-old partner did not itself warrant finding the parents guilty of child abuse.
The court left open the question of "whether, on different facts, an abuse finding should be made."24 A court might reach a different finding in a case involving, for example, a 12-year-old in a sexual relationship with a 25-year-old, despite claims that it was voluntary and consensual. A caregiver is guilty of when he or she fails to exercise substantial care, and thus causes or creates a substantial risk of physical harm to the child or causes a substantial reduction in the child's psychological or intellectual functioning. Hospital policies that mandate or permit reporting of "statutory rape" to the police (or to child protective services without further evidence of abuse) also make the hospital vulnerable to a lawsuit. Can a mandatory reporter be sued or charged with a crime for making or failing to make a child abuse report? Situation #1: Penalties for mandatory reporters who make good faith, false or negligent reports.