In recent years, the school district, child protection agencies, and the state have become aware of an increasing incidence of children who engage in sexual behaviors with other children. A student who initiates sexual behavior with other children may be considered a juvenile sexual offender or a child with inappropriate sexual behavior, depending on the circumstances. Some children, especially young children, who engage in sexual behaviors are repeating learned behaviors from past sexual abuse.
Florida Statute 39 states that reports involving a known or suspected juvenile sexual offender or a child who has exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior shall be made and received by the Department of Children and Families through the Florida abuse hotline:
1. The department shall determine the age of the alleged offender if known.
2. If the alleged offender is 12 years of age or younger, the central abuse hotline shall immediately electronically transfer the report or call to the county sheriff’s office. The department(Department of Children and Families or it’s contracted investigative agencies) shall conduct an assessment and assist the family in receiving appropriate services pursuant to FS 39.307, and send a written report of the allegation to the appropriate county sheriff’s office within 48 hours after the initial report is made to the central abuse hotline.
3. If the alleged offender is 13 years of age or older, the central abuse hotline shall immediately electronically transfer the report or call to the appropriate county sheriff’s office and send a written report to the appropriate county sheriff’s office within 48 hours after the initial report to the central abuse hotline.
Florida Statute 39 states that an “alleged juvenile sexual offender” means:
(a) A child 12 years of age or younger who is alleged to have committed a violation of chapter 794, chapter 796, chapter 800, statute 827.071, or statute 847.0133 (these are all criminal statutes); or
(b) A child who is alleged to have committed any violation of law or delinquent act involving juvenile sexual abuse. “Juvenile sexual abuse” means any sexual behavior that occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion. For the purposes of this paragraph, the following definitions apply:
1. “Coercion” means the exploitation of authority or the use of bribes, threats of force, or intimidation to gain cooperation or compliance.
2. “Equality” means two participants operating with the same level of power in a relationship, neither being controlled or coerced by the other.
3. “Consent” means an agreement, including all of the following:
a. Understanding what is proposed based on age, maturity, developmental level, functioning, and experience
b. Knowledge of societal standards for what is being proposed
c. Awareness of potential consequences and alternatives
d. Assumption that agreement or disagreement will be accepted equally
e. Voluntary decision
f. Mental competence.
Florida Statute 39 states that a “child who has exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior” means a child who is 12 years of age or younger and who has been found by the department (Department of Children and Families or its community- based lead agencies such as ChildNet in Broward County) or the court to have committed an inappropriate sexual act.