Mandatory report requirement changed thanks to McNary seniors
September 25, 2018 By:MHS Piper
By Nolan Bryant
Daily Piper News Editor
Because of the efforts of two McNary High School seniors, mandatory reporters no longer need to report to police or DHS if they hear of minors having consensual sex.
A year ago, McNary Seniors Kim Schott and Marissa Dougall began a project to change what it is to be a mandatory reporter in the educational system. Before the bill was passed in the Oregon State Legislature on Sep 12, 2018, all mandatory reporters were required to report any consensual sexual activity between underage students.
This greatly hampered the support teachers could provide to their students, Schott said.
Some kids sexually mature faster than others, Schott said, but are shunned for their acts of maturity.
The new bill recently passed about mandatory reporters will provide the much needed support system to these students.
Schott said health classes are in schools to specifically help teens when it comes to their new hormonal sexual behaviors, but under the previous ruling that mandatory reporters had to report underage consensual sex, these classes would be hindered with helping students.
Schott and Dougall’s idea sprang to life late last year when a discussion broke out in their health class about the rules of mandatory reporters when it comes to sex.
“It really bothered me that such an important topic cannot be discussed,” said Dougall.
Schott also said, “They were taking away our right of speech.”
This laid the groundwork for plan a of action.
They started with a school wide petition but immediately hit a trouble spot.
“We were just not getting enough people. We were only attracting so few,” Schott.
To counter the problem the duo turned to the internet, creating an online petition, and posting it to the web. The petition was a major success,and attracted over 4,000 signatures in the first month, Schott said.
“It was so inspirational watching the world come together,” Dougal said.
The burst of popularity and the new strength behind the program caught the eye of the Salem-Keizer superintendent Mrs. Christy Perry and representatives Mr. Bill Post and Mrs. Sarah Gessler.
Schott and Dougall presented their idea to Perry, Post, Gessler, Jesperson and many others.
“It was a really big moment,” Dougall said.
The bill was written and presented to the Oregon government, and Dougall and Schott testified. Unfortunately, Dougall said, the Democratic Party attempted to change the legal age of consent using this bill. This idea angered the Republicans and they dropped the support of the bill. After a compromise between the parties, Representative Gessler’s part of the bill that clarifies the definition of mandatory reporters was passed. However, the rest was dropped.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum issued the formal opinion on the matter on the Sep. 12. “We conclude that mandatory reporters are not obligated to report every instance of sexual conduct involving minors when the age-gap defense applies,” Rosenblum stated.
The “age gap defense” used by Rosenblum means if between ages 12 through 21, and it’s consensual, reporters are no longer required by law to report the student, however it can still be reported if they choose.
The two girls were ecstatic and wrote a letter to the Statesman Journal. They wrote “It’s so great to know that all the hard work paid off. We did this for the students, staff and community. We’re so thankful for everyone who supported us. We recommend this to anyone,” Schott said. “It’s a great way to put your voice out there.”