Teachers and staff of an Oregon public school district are disturbed at a district rule requiring them to report any student sexual activity—whether they know about it for a fact or just suspect it, and even if it involves their own children—to law enforcement or state officials. According to the Salem-Keizer district, the requirement is necessary under the state's mandatory reporting and child abuse laws—all district employees are mandatory reporters and as such are required to report when they have "reasonable cause" to suspect a child is being abused—but the Statesman Journal reports that most other school districts in the state don't consider consensual sexual activity between teens to be something teachers are required to report. More than 1,300 people have signed an online petition asking the school board chairman to put an end to the requirement.
The superintendent explains the policy is not new, but the district recently added a training session dealing with situations employees would be required to report. Some of those situations included things like a 15-year-old confiding that she's having sex with her boyfriend and needs birth control, a 14-year-old telling a teacher his parents kicked him out over a same-sex relationship that has turned sexual, or a teacher's own 17-year-old son confessing his 16-year-old girlfriend is pregnant. Employees and students alike say they're concerned that under this requirement, students will lose trusted confidantes at school and will have a harder time getting access to information about safe sex. A district spokesperson tells KATU she has been in touch with a legislator about the law's interpretation, and adds to Newsweek that the district is "erring on the side of caution." (Read more sex stories.)