Editorial: Law and Mandated Reporting Must Coincide

The law states that an adult (someone who is 18 or older) is not legally allowed to have sex with a minor (someone who is under 18) even if the minor agrees to what is happening. If this occurs the adult in the couple is subject to be tried in court for statutory rape. However, doctors and therapists are not necessarily mandated to report this relationship. The idea that a 17-year-old can’t have sex with his 19-year-old girlfriend because she is an adult and she could potentially be tried with statutory rape, is wrong. The boy’s doctor might believe that the relationship is perfectly healthy, the couple may be completely happy, yet a police officer could still arrest her.

Although the law may seem too restricting, what doctors do have to mandate (as per the graph) seems too lenient. The age gap between sexual partners that health professionals do not have to report seems large and unreasonable. The law and the mandated reporting protocol should meet in the middle.

Technically, as of now, someone under the age of 18 doesn’t own their own body, their parents do. This means a minor does not have the right to say “yes” to what happens to their body. This does not seem right: if an individual is old enough to drive and put others in danger on the road, then why can’t they agree to have sex with a partner they feel safe and comfortable with, even if this partner is 18 and a legal adult?

Being prepared to have sexual intercourse should not be gauged by age, it’s based on an immeasurable level of maturity and stability within that relationship. However, there are age gaps that seem inappropriate.

The age of consent should be amended as should the chart regarding mandated reporting. Instead, people should legally be allowed to have sex at the age of 16, meaning it would not be considered statutory rape between two-year gaps: for example, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old should be able to engage in intercourse without negative repercussions with the law; same goes for a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old.

Having to report a sexual relationship is, within the confines of the chart, completely at the physicians’ discretion. At this time their guidelines include age gaps that seem unhealthy (for example, 14-year-old and a 20-year-old). However, right now even this age spread is left to the doctor to decide whether or not the relationship is healthy. Moreover, what is considered “healthy” could differ completely between different physicians and situations. In this case there should be stricter guidelines laying out what is specified as healthy and okay regarding sexual relationships or the age gap should be smaller.

 

The Editorial Board votes 9-0 that there should not be a  discrepency between what doctors must report and what is legal.