Reporting violations of the law?

Nurses General Nursing


Wierd question.....

As RNs we know we have a duty to report violations of the law when we have reason to i.e child abuse, domestic violence ect...

However, working in L&D what are the rules when you have a 15 year old mom and a 22 year old dad. Once had a 16 yo with a 45 yo dad (they were married) Had a 14 year old having her 2nd baby with a 19 yo. Obviously the law has been broken....but I perfer to stay out of the drama. Recently had a 28 yo mom and a 16 yo dad....

I like to follow the none of my business approach....but I don't want this to come back and bite later...but I also think that if they are filling out the birth certificite paper work honestly that is kinda like self reporting....

What do ya'll think.


517 Posts

I know the belief is under 18 is statutory rape but that's not federal law and most states have very different standards. You would have to check with your state to find out the legal age and circumstances. In some states, even if it is statutory rape it's not reportable (as child abuse) unless the person was responsible for the child's care.

You may find this link helpful.

I looked and the age of consent for every state is at least 16 (at which point they are legally able to consent to sex with a partner of any age). However, even if they are under the age of consent, many states allow for an age differential which allows for sexual relationships between young partners relatively close in age.

In your examples, 15 yo mom and 22 yo dad is illegal in all states. 16 yo mom and 45 yo dad is legal in some states and illegal in others. 14 yo mom and 19 yo dad is legal in some and illegal in most states. 28 yo mom and 16 yo dad is legal in most states.

Specializes in Cardiac, ER.

I am not allowed to report domestic violence unless the victim requests it, is a child, is elderly, is handicapped, or the victim has a gun shot wound. In my state once a "child" (14 or older) is pregnant, she becomes emancipated and HIPAA doesn't allow me to even contact her parents about pregnancy or STD treatment,..I am allowed to bill Mom and Dad's insurance though. I agree that the law stinks,..if my 14yr old goes to the ER with her 22yr old boyfriend and finds out she is pregnant I darn well believe I NEED to know about it!


517 Posts

Hrm, I only considered consent and hadn't thought about emancipation with pregnancy which would further change things.

I would imagine (but don't know) that for interested parents the laws regarding consent would still apply though. Now that I think about it, I remember seeing something on this a few years ago about a couple who got married and the husband went to jail anyway because at the time of conception the wife wasn't old enough to consent (or the difference in their ages was too much).

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health.

The "privacy" accorded to an emancipated minor applies to pregnancy and STD-related care, not impregnation. It is possible for statutory rape to have been the event that led to the pregnancy for which the minor child is seeking care. In that circumstance, I believe that the sexual act that caused the pregnancy is still reportable, because the girl wasn't emancipated at that time. The pregnancy related care must be kept private, but that does not erase the duty to report child abuse and/or statutory rape.

Most facilities and agencies have policies in place that nurses who suspect abuse are to contact social services. I have been involved in situations where I notified other staff members of suspected abuse and made sure that they investigated and reported. I have never made the report myself.

Specializes in L&D.

In my hospital, all OB patients under 18 get a Social Service consult to be sure the mother and infant have/will have acceptable living conditions. I let SS decide if a police report needs to be filed.

Although the law says that sex with a person under a certain age by someone over a certain age, in practice it is usually enforced if the girl's (or boy's) family bring it to the attention of the authorities, the girl is really young, or there is something extreme about it (that religious place in Texas with all the multiple marriages to young girls last year).

It is not always the best thing to prosecute and jail a male just because he has impregnated a girl under the age of consent. If he is involved with the girl and her baby, working and supporting his child, is jailing him the best thing for anyone?

So I just refer to Social Service as my hospital protocol requires.


1 Article; 2,334 Posts

16 yo mom and 45 yo dad is legal in some states and illegal in others.

pers posted the link I was going to :) However, the couple above if married, are legal in all states.

Mimi2RN, ASN, RN

1,142 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

We get Social Services involved whenever mom is 17 or under. They will contact CPS if dad is older.

One stable, mature 17 y/o mom was told that she could not live with the 20 y/o father until she was 18. They had planned on being married but needed paperwork from Mexico, and had a premie. That was one case that didn't make any sense to us. She had to take the baby to a much poorer living situation until her birthday a couple of months later.

Other times they don't do anything when we are worried about home situations and teenage moms with older men. Makes no sense!

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