Great question! Here’s what you need to know about mandatory reporting laws in Colorado:
1. If a Teen Clinic patient is under 18, we are obligated by law to report instances of rape, abuse, neglect, molestation or other non-consensual sexual activity.
2. We are also required to report statutory rape. In Colorado, it is considered statutory rape when:
- A person under 15 engages in sexual activity with a person 4 or more years older than them.
- A person 15 or 16 engages in sexual activity with a person 10 or more years older than them.
- A person of any age has sexual contact with a person in a position of direct authority (i.e. a teacher, coach, doctor, therapist, etc.).
If a patient is over 17 and she reports an incident from the past that has not already been reported which falls into these categories, Teen Clinic will still have to notify the authorities, by law.
It’s important to note that there is no age of consent for youth outside these categories. Consensual sex is considered legal, for instance, between two people who are 15, or a couple 15 & 17 years old. That means it’s a myth that people under 18 can’t give consent; in Colorado, they can, as long as the age and power differences don’t fall under the above guidelines. And don’t forget that non-consensual sex is always illegal, regardless of age difference.
Curious about why statutory rape laws exist? Check out this great article by the Guttmacher Institute. And feel free to ask away if you have more questions. Teen Clinic wants to make sure its patients know up front what they do and don’t need to report. Thanks for checking!