"As a general matter -- I would imagine most people would be surprised that 16 is the age of consent, but at the same time, to change that would likely require changes in a large portion of the criminal code and possibly even on the federal level."Mandated Reporters: Who are They? Regarding who is required to report, Farst said, the state of Arkansas has a fairly explicit and lengthy list. "It can get very confusing regarding which relationships are okay..which should be reported," Farst said.
Just like the therapist in the Suskie case, professionals have to rely on what the teens are willing to tell them and what they observe to decide if something sinister is afoot."In the case that a person says they're 16 and the partner is their 25-year-old neighbor, I would not refer that to the hotline, because I would be having to take their word for it.
I can't go out and figure out if it's their neighbor or not," Patterson said.
And sometimes, they can even be opposed to the idea of reporting, because they assume we're trying to get someone in trouble, when really our concern is protecting them."In cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds, Dr.
Farst said healthcare professionals and other mandated reporters have to try and learn about the nature of the relationship by asking the right questions to know if a child is a victim or a consenting participant."Does the person [who is over 18] have authority over them?
"It created a hole in the law that likely wasn't intended, because these laws were passed at different times."Prosecutors are apparently not the only ones who deal with the struggle of determining what the law allows, especially when you review the Suskie investigation file, which required law enforcement, principals and mental health providers to try and determine if the relationship was actually illegal.
Ultimately, because of her position as a substitute, she was charged with sexual assault.The decision to call is not always an easy one, Patterson said, because the therapist has to weigh issues of confidentiality and the impact the notification will have on the therapist's relationship with the patient.Patterson noted that therapists and other reporters often have to make the tough call regardless of those considerations if they believe a child is in danger."I think sometimes kids can fall through the cracks because individuals don't understand the law," Patterson said. -- Lawmakers will tell you that the laws currently on the books are aimed at protecting children from adult predators.But professionals tasked with wading through the web of laws will tell you it can be difficult to determine when a child is actually a child and when they're able to give consent to sex, even if the relationship is the kind that parents and other adults wouldn't approve of at the outset.If you don't tell me it's not true,'" the boy's father relayed.