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This FAQ explains that according to New York courts and guidance from the Office of Child & Family Services ("OCFS"), parental knowledge of a minor's voluntary sexual activity does not necessarily give rise to reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect and should not be reported to the Statewide Central Register, absent other indications of abuse or neglect.
This memorandum is not intended to provide individualized legal advice. New York's child abuse reporting law mandates certain professionals to file a report when they either have reasonable cause to suspect or become aware of abuse or maltreatment (neglect) committed by a "parent, guardian, custodian or other person legally responsible" (hereinafter referred to as "parent or caregiver") for a child's care.1 Abuse or maltreatment means that the parent or caregiver directly harms the child or acts in a way that allows the child to be physically or emotionally harmed or sexually abused.2 Under New York law, a child abuse report is only required if the abuse is committed by a parent or caregiver, because they are the only ones that can be ‘the subject of a report."3 Therefore, the Statewide Central Register should only commence an investigation in a case involving suspected child abuse or maltreatment against a parent or caregiver, and not in a case involving a person who is clearly not considered a person legally responsible for the child's care,4 even if that person harmed a child.5 Harms committed by strangers or peers are therefore not mandated reports, unless a parent has allowed a third party to harm the child.
, a state appellate court affirmed a lower court's decision noting that a 15-year-old with a sexually transmitted infection could not be presumed to be the victim of child abuse because the minor's age indicated that he could have been engaged in "consensual sexual activity." 589 N.
New York Office of Children and Family Services, Administrative Directive, 07-OCFS-ADM-15 (Dec. The information that is provided to the social service worker should be accepted at face value, and should be reported to the State Central Register so long as it would constitute child abuse assuming it were true. Because New York law provides that persons 16 years old and younger generally do not have the capacity to consent to sexual activity, anyone under the age of seventeen who engages in vaginal, anal or oral sex is the victim of at least the misdemeanor crime of sexual misconduct, and may be the victim of a felony sexual crime depending on the age of his or her partner.
Can a child abuse or neglect report be made against the parent or caregiver solely on the grounds that a teen in their care is sexually active? However, abuse committed by a school employee against a student in a school setting is governed by another set of laws.
No, absent other allegations of abuse or neglect, a minor is not an abused or neglected child merely because she or he is sexually active.15 Without other evidence of abuse, mandatory reporters should not report sexually active or pregnant minors to the Statewide Central Register. School employees must report any allegations of such abuse to school authorities, but , 122 Misc.
Therefore, health care, educational and other facilities should not impose policies requiring blanket reporting of all sexually active or pregnant teens to the Statewide Central Register because a determination of reasonable suspicion of child abuse should be made on a case by case basis depending on the specific circumstances of a situation. How does a health provider's duty of confidentiality affect the reporting obligation?
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.
Social service workers who are either employed by or have contracts with local social service districts are under an additional obligation to report child abuse or maltreatment if a third party comes to them in their official capacity and provides the social worker with information that, if true, would render a child abused or maltreated.13 4. 2008) (affirming the holding that there was no showing of a statutory duty to report under the mandatory reporter law but reversing the grant of summary judgment for the medical malpractice claim because there existed genuine issues of material fact as to whether the pediatrician otherwise breached her duty of care).
Should a mandatory reporter file a child abuse report if he or she learns that a minor is engaged in a sexual relationship with a parent, guardian or person legally responsible -even if the minor says that it is consensual? A minor engaging in a sexual relationship with a parent, guardian or person legally responsible for their care -even if the minor considers the relationship consensual-is a proper basis for a child abuse report.14 5. 2007) (finding that a report against a half-brother was not legally justified as a report of child abuse or maltreatment because the half brother "could not be the subject of a report") 300 Fed. 4 Teachers and other school employees are not considered persons "legally responsible" under New York child abuse laws.
As described above, New York courts have held that most cases of voluntary teen sexual activity do not give rise to reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect.
When a health provider does not have a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect, there is no legal basis to breach a patient's confidentiality to file a report.