Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Legal Consequences of Teen Sexuality

The following question was posted here:

Paraphrasing the question:
I am 16 and see a personal counselor. I told her I am in a relationship with a 29 year old man. She checked with her advisers and DCF to see if it was legal or not and said yes it is legal -- there's nothing anyone can do about it. Then a couple of months after that my counselor brought my mom in with us during a session to work on my relationship with her. My mom brought up her concerns of me possibly being with this man. I have always said to her I wasn't with him and he has told her the same. The next day tells me that it's illegal and she needs to tell the authorities. So, is it legal or not?
My answers:
The age of consent for sexual relations in Massachusetts is 16. I'll post more in a few minutes after searching to give you some citations.

Call me at 781-641-3472 if you would like a free, brief initial consultation about your rights.
The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries have put together a great set of links on a page called "Massachusetts Law About Sex."
I suppose it could be argued that it might be "abuse" under DCF (formerly DSS)'s definition if the counselor had "reasonable cause to believe" that your relationship with this man "causes, or creates a substantial risk of physical or emotional injury," or if the man can be defined as a "caretaker" in relationship to you because "any sexual contact between a caretaker and a child under the care of that individual" also constitutes "abuse." I'll link the definition page below as well as the statutory link about what a counselor is "mandated" to "report."
On the other hand, a child in DCF custody is allowed to consent to her own "family planning services" which can include contraception. See §11.05 of the Medical Authorizations regulation linked below.
If the counselor is required to report under §51A, linked below, your right to privacy of your conversations with her is essentially voided. If she is wrong about her insistence on reporting and ignores your reasonable requests that she keep your confidences, you may have a claim against her.
DCF's Glossary regulation
Mandated reporting Law
DCF's Medical authorizations regulation