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Teachers in Salem-Keizer SD must report if they learn students are sexually active

File photo - Salem-Keizer School District.jpg

SALEM, Ore. – Employees of the Salem-Keizer School District have to report when they hear about students having sex.

District officials say this is not a change in policy, but simply their way of clearing up the old one on the books after some employees raised questions.

Oregon law says if you're under 18 years old, you can't legally give consent to having sex, and it becomes abuse. It also requires anyone working for a child-caring agency to report child abuse and that includes sexual activity - even consensual sex between minors.

“I spoke to a legislator this morning and I'm sure it won't be the last conversation we have with our representatives to ensure that the way the legislation is implemented meets their intent,” said Lillian Govus, a spokesperson for the district.

Govus said a recent training session was meant to clarify their stance. However some people say it has only made the policy more confusing.

For example - if a student asks their teacher about birth control, that does not 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," explained Govus.

Parents and kids tell KATU News they believe enforcing this policy can break the trust established between teachers and students.

"So rather than reporting it to the authorities, use that to gain trust, get insight and educate the kids. That way you'll know what's going on," said parent Joyce Stevens.

If employees don't report, however, they could be found guilty of a misdemeanor. They would face fines and could lose their job.

It is harder to tell what would happen to the students that the teachers report on could.

"Now what the state does with the information that we report to them is ultimately up to them. They may not take any action on it at all. They may go do a site visit. Or they may do a further investigation," said Govus.

More than 500 people have signed a petition against the reporting. Those against the policy have held a rally on the Capitol steps, and they say another one is in the works.

KATU’s Joe English talked with several legislators Wednesday and said it doesn't seem they intended the strict reporting requirements. People can call or email their state representative If they think the statutes need to be revised or new laws re-written, and legislators may take on the task and get the process started.

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