ROGUE RIVER, Ore. -- A protest broke out after Salem-Keizer School District told its staff to report if a student under the age of 18 is sexually active. This is because Oregon's legal age of consent is 18. Children under that age cannot give consent so sexual activity is considered sexual abuse. The Rogue River School District Superintendent said his district and most school districts across the state, do not use Salem-Keizer's standard and most school district’s across the state do not.
"Anyone who works in a public school who knows or has reason to suspect that abuse is taking place must report it under Oregon law. If you are a teacher and you don't report it you can forfeit your licensure," said Rogue River School District’s Superintendent Paul Young.
He said they have to report if any child under the age of 16 is sexually active. If a child is over 16, reporting is not necessary unless a minor is involved in a sexual relationship with someone 3 years older.
"The big boundaries are 16, 18, it's got to be consensual and of course you wind up with someone who is over 18 and someone who is under 18 that decide to get romantically involved you can't cross that line," Young added.
Once those cases are reported to DHS or law enforcement, it is up to them to decide what to do with the case. Young said he has not seen Salem-Keizer School District's new interpretation anywhere else in the state but it could inspire other districts in the future.
"Clearly the purpose of the laws we have is to protect people and there are ages at which we deem people are capable of making decisions and there ages we deem people are not yet capable of making decisions," said Young.
He added Salem-Keizer's new interpretation can influence other school districts to follow especially if that standard becomes the new mandatory reporter law.
"Then it will trickle down and every other school district in the State of Oregon will fall in line with the law because it's the law. On the other hand it's possible that they may look this thing over and they may say, ‘No, Marion County, we think you over reacted, get back in line with the rest of the state.’ We'll find out in time," Young finished.
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