Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Oh, Missouri - How I Love Thee

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH - A bill that seeks to overhaul Missouri's child abuse reporting laws could require teachers, doctors, nurses and others to report sexually active teenagers and children to the state's abuse hot line... Perhaps the most controversial provision of the bill is one that many say would require educators, medical personnel and other professionals to report "substantial evidence of sexual intercourse by an unmarried minor under the age of consent."

Critics say the language would, in essence, require child abuse reports even of cases of consensual sex between two teens. Byrd claims the bill seeks only to target sex by children under the age of 15... He said sexual activity by children under that age is something that should be reported to the child abuse hot line, regardless of the age of the sexual partner.

Missouri law on age of consent differs by the circumstances. An adult, for example, can be prosecuted for having sex with anyone under the age of 17. "If somebody says to me, what's the age of consent in Missouri, I say it's 17," said Ed Postawko, a sex crimes prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office...

The bill also could cost the state money by requiring more staff to screen calls to the child abuse hot line. Deb Hendricks, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services, said the department has estimated that the bill could cost an extra $269,000 for the current fiscal year.


At 9:53 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Oh goodness! As a future pediatrician this makes me so angry. What teen will tell a doctor they were sexually active if they thought their parents would find out or even worse if someone is going to contact them from the state. STDs will go up because they will not be reported or treated. Some STDs can cause serious problems if left untreated!

As I have said in the past, don't we have other things to worry about!! How about encouraging safe sex instead of this bill. What teen will buy a condom thinking that someone at the store might see and report them! Not that I am encouraging sex at a young age because I think it is wrong, but we can't just imagine it is not happening.

Missouri can be so backward sometimes!


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