Feminist Psychotherapy with
Jeanne Courtney, MFT

​Child Sexual Abuse Reporting

Law and Ethics with an LGBT Focus Part Two

​Law and Ethics Nuts and Bolts

​Knowledge or suspicion of anyone having non-consensual sexual activity with a person under 18, always requires a therapist in California to make a mandated Suspected Child Abuse Report. In addition, the following activities require a report regardless of the child’s alleged consent.

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​​For children under 14

1) Any sexual activity with a partner over 14, even if allegedly married to the child

2) "Lewd and Lascivious" acts by a partner of any age (behavior with the "intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of the perpetrator or child")

For children 14 or 15 years old

1) Any sexual activity with a partner under 14

2) "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse"* with a partner older than 21, even if allegedly married

3) Lewd and Lascivious acts by a partner more than 10 years older than child

For children 16 or 17 years old

1) Any sexual activity with a partner under 14

2) Unlawful Sexual Intercourse* with a partner over 14 years old, with evidence of exploitation, even if allegedly married

 For all children under 18

1) Incest, which includes sexual activity with uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, half and whole siblings, and ancestors and descendants of every degree

2) Any involuntary sexual activity

Additional notes

* Prior to a case law decision in April 2013, the following activities were reportable when EITHER party was under 18,  regardless of the other's age:  "sodomy, oral copulation, or penetration of a genital or anal opening by a foreign object." This discriminatory law made it difficult for therapists to maintain confidentiality for their sexually active, adolescent, LGBTQ clients. Since April 2013, where mandated reporting is concerned, these activities are treated the same as "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse."

Some activities may be criminal but not reportable. For example, consensual intercourse between an adult and a person under 18 is a crime ("Unlawful Sexual Intercourse"). However, if the child is over 16, there would be no reason to report suspected child abuse, as long as there is no evidence of exploitation. The same would be true if the child is 14 or 15 and the partner is under 21.

Likewise, some activities may be reportable but not necessarily criminal. For example, if two children engage in any sexual activity when one is over 14 and the other is under 14, this would mandate a suspected child abuse report.

The only activity NOT reportable for children under 14 is consensual sexual behavior with another child under 14, with no evidence of exploitation or coercion.