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The decision to call is not always an easy one, Patterson said, because the therapist has to weigh issues of confidentiality and the impact the notification will have on the therapist's relationship with the patient.
Patterson noted that therapists and other reporters often have to make the tough call regardless of those considerations if they believe a child is in danger."I think sometimes kids can fall through the cracks because individuals don't understand the law," Patterson said.
The boy's father relayed as much to investigators in an interview, according to transcripts and audio recordings in the investigative file.
Other times, they would make a call to the hotline, where those trained in the ins and outs of the law can offer guidance on whether something is reportable or whether it would be screened out.
So he was 16, so I figured by my reading of it, that on its face wasn't illegal so I had no obligation to go forward.'"And by the law, and other professionals' interpretations of it for us -- including law enforcement and attorneys -- there would be nothing clearly criminal about it.
The teen's father acknowledged that uncertainty saying, "I wasn't thinking criminal either, because I was thinking the whole time that this sucks because [he] was 16.
One High-Profile Example of Confusion & Consent Laws Forty-four year old Erica Suskie's day in court for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old appeared to hinge on one fact: she was a substitute teacher at the teen's school.
That detail was something the teen's therapist was not aware of when the 16-year-old disclosed the relationship in August 2015.
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"As a general matter -- I would imagine most people would be surprised that 16 is the age of consent, but at the same time, to change that would likely require changes in a large portion of the criminal code and possibly even on the federal level."Mandated Reporters: Who are They? Regarding who is required to report, Farst said, the state of Arkansas has a fairly explicit and lengthy list. "It can get very confusing regarding which relationships are okay..which should be reported," Farst said.