(UPI) — An Oregon school district is requiring teachers to call the police or the state’s Department of Human Services if they suspect students of being sexually active.
The Salem-Keizer School District in northeast Oregon enacted the new policy this week to err “on the side of caution,” Lillian Govus, a spokeswoman for Salem-Keizer, told Newsweek.
Under Oregon law, a child under the age of 18 cannot give consent to any sort of sexual activity, even if the partner is also under 18. And the school district wants its teachers to help enforce the law by reporting sexually active students.
“It’s criminal not to report,” Govus told the Statesman Journal. “People’s careers are at stake here.”
What needs to be reported covers a broad area. If teachers hear a rumor about a “hook up,” they will need to call the authorities, reported KOIN-TV. But if a student asks a general questions about birth control, that doesn’t need to be reported.
“However, if a student inquires about birth control because they’re being sexually active with a partner, then that is specific and that has to be reported under this legislature,” Govus told KATU-TV
Teachers who don’t report are subject to fines and termination.
Critics of the policy said it will only make students less likely to seek information about sex from a trusted adult at school.
“This leaves students with no one. The students no longer have that safe teacher they can talk to,” said parent Kimberly Schott in a petition to end the policy. “Instead the students must find a way to be sneaky and hide so that they don’t get reported, which could leave to several more issues.”
Oregon Education Association President C. John Larson said the policy “throws confusion into the mix.”
“We want to make sure our students are protected, they need to be safe and they need to feel safe but they also need to feel like they can have conversations with their parents or with educators in situations where it may not be a mandatory reporting situation,” he said.
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