Statutes from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia were the primary sources of information for this report. Each state’s statutes were accessed via the Internet—usually through the state legislature’s Website. As of this writing, all of the statutes were current through at least 2003. This report is not intended to be a legal
This report focuses on laws that criminalize voluntary sexual acts involving a minor that would be legal if not for the age of one or more of the participants. The report does not include laws where the legality of the sexual acts is dependent on the relationship of the participants (e.g., incest, sex between teachers and students or doctors and p
Unlike most rape laws, in which force is a key element of the offense, statutory rape laws assume that all sexual activities with individuals below a certain age are coercive, even if both parties believe their participation is voluntary. Generally, statutory rape laws define the age below which an individual is legally incapable of consenting to
 The Alan Guttmacher Institute (1994). Sex and America’s Teenagers. New York.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is concerned about the health of adolescents, including unwanted sexual contact at a young age. For example, research finds that:
Work on this project was funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a contract to The Lewin Group. This report benefited greatly from the oversight and input of Jerry Silverman, the ASPE Project Officer.
9 Although the federal government’s jurisdiction is limited, the United States Code does include statutory rape laws. See 18 U.S.C.A. § 2241 and § 2243.
Each state summary highlights the required response of the state and local agencies that receive reports of suspected child abuse. State statutes vary in the level of detail they provide. Generally they include requirements addressing which entities, if any, the agency receiving the initial report must notify, the timeframe for this notification,
To varying degrees of specificity, all state statutes provide mandated reporters with instructions for the reporting process. 34 States generally require that mandated reporters notify the appropriate authorities within one to three days of encountering a case of suspected abuse. Mandated reporters can usually make an initial report orally, via t
Each state’s reporting requirements identify certain individuals who are required to notify the authorities of suspected abuse. Although it varies by state, mandated reporters are typically individuals who encounter children through their professional capacity . In Pennsylvania, the statute requires all individuals who encounter a case of abu
Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements. Inclusion of Statutory Rape in Reporting Requirements
State statutes vary in the extent to which statutory rape is included in the reporting requirements. In approximately one-third of the states, mandated reporting is limited to those situations where the abuse was perpetrated or allowed by a person responsible for the care of the child. 26 Consider the example of Virginia. Child abuse, a reportabl
Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements
Statutory rape reporting requirements are generally found in the sections of states’ codes that deal with juveniles, children and families, domestic relationships, or social services, whereas the criminal or penal codes address the legality of specific offenses. This section of the report summarizes states’ child abuse reporting requirements a
States’ laws addressing sexual activity involving minors are usually included in the section of the criminal code devoted to sexual offenses. Each state summary ( Section III ) includes a table detailing all of the offenses in the statute that deal with statutory rape.
States’ statutory rape offenses detail the age at which an individual can legally consent to sexual activity. This section focuses on laws addressing sexual intercourse . 10 Table 1 summarizes, where applicable, each state’s:
Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements. Statutory Rape — Criminal Offenses
As noted above, few states use the term statutory rape in their codes. Instead, criminal codes specify the legality of specific sexual acts. The applicable laws are often embedded in the section of the code dealing with other sexual offenses (e.g., sexual assault, forcible rape).
Contents Background Criminal Laws Reporting Requirements Implications for Program Staff and Policy Makers Structure of Report Endnote