Safety of Minors
Responsible University Officer(s):
- Vice President for Human Resources
- Human Resources Chief of Staff
- Provost Office Chief of Staff
The University has historically provided a safe environment for minors (children) and is committed to continued vigilance over the programs it sponsors for minors. This policy covers all minors, students and non-students, under the age of 18 who are:
- participating in University-sponsored programs that are held on or off University property;
- enrolled in undergraduate and graduate academic programs at the University; or
- participating in programs operated by non-University organizations on University property.
All University employees, including student employees, and volunteers are required to report to the local police department (including the University Police Departments), county sheriff or local social services agency within 24 hours when they know or have reason to believe a minor (person under 18 years old, including minors enrolled in programs) covered by this policy is being physically or sexually abused or neglected, or has been within the past three years, including abuse and neglect by non-University persons. While Minnesota law requires reporting by certain professionals at the University, such as educators (including faculty, instructors, researchers, coaches and deans), health care providers, social workers, and others, the University by policy extends this reporting obligation to all employees and volunteers.
After reporting to authorities, individuals are encouraged to notify their supervisor, if appropriate.
Programs Intended for Minors as Primary Participants
For a summary of responsibilities under this policy, please see Registration Grid.
Program leaders whose unit (campus, college, or department) is sponsoring an event or program intended for minors are required to register the event/group with the designated individual on their campus prior to the start of the event. The purpose of registration is to confirm that each program has addressed safety of minors in its planning and complied with the requirements of this policy. For units that regularly conduct programs for minors on or off University property (child care centers, annual summer camp programs, etc.), a single annual filing is sufficient.
Each campus is responsible for posting information regarding their programs on the web as well as providing a link to the University-wide program web site. Program leaders must verify the information at least annually to ensure that all of their programs are listed and that the information is current.
B. Background Checking
Program staff must complete a criminal background check, which includes a check of the National Sex Offender Public Registry ("sex offender registry"), both before hire or start of service and every three years thereafter.
The following program staff are excluded from the background check requirement unless they are staying overnight:
- program staff who visit minors off-campus in settings where minors are under the supervision of teachers, parents or other adult chaperones from the minors' school or organization; and
- program staff for programs that host minors on campus in groups where the minors are under the supervision of teachers, parents, or other adult chaperones from the minors' school or organization;
- volunteers and temporary, seasonal, or student employees who:
- will not have unsupervised contact with minors, and
- are under the direct supervision of a program staff member who has successfully completed a background check, and
- represent that they are not on the sex offender registry.
Guest speakers or guests who provide demonstrations are also excluded from the background check requirement if program staff remain in the room.
Program staff must have completed a criminal background check and have been determined eligible before their participation in a program for minors begins. Program leaders are responsible for ensuring that the background check request forms have been submitted to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) on each of the adult program staff. OHR will facilitate the process with an outside vendor. Based on the information obtained through the criminal background checks, OHR staff will advise units as to whether individuals are eligible to participate in University-sponsored programs for minors.
The cost of the criminal background checking will be charged to the requesting unit(s) and shared, as appropriate, when a program is sponsored by more than one University department or unit.
Program staff who are required to have a background check must also complete a University-wide web-based training course prior to participating in activities with minors. The course will cover, at a minimum, abuse awareness, safeguards for minors, and mandatory reporting requirements. Individual programs may choose to provide additional training in these areas. Completion of this training is required, at a minimum, every three years.
D. Health and Safety
University-operated programs must comply with the health and safety measures required in Appendix: Health and Safety Requirements for Programs Involving Minors.
Non-University Organizations Using University Facilities
Non-University organizations (e.g., sports camps) that operate programs or activities on campus or in a University facility where minors attend without an accompanying adult, or when the program includes an overnight stay, must certify to the University that all individuals who will have ongoing interaction with minors (and anyone who supervises such individuals) have received training and have undergone the criminal background check that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of this policy. The exceptions set forth in the Background Checking section above also applies to non-University organizations. In addition, organizations are responsible for taking appropriate actions to protect the health and safety of minors. The University of Minnesota reserves the right to review the health and safety plans for a program or event.
When non-University organizations conduct a program or event in a University facility where minors attend as part of a team or group and are accompanied by coaches, teachers or group leaders from the minors' school or organization, the accompanying coaches, teachers or group leaders are responsible for supervision of the minors. The University unit providing the facility may request a specific staff to minor ratio at its discretion.
Compliance with Policy and Protection from Retaliation
All University employees and volunteers must comply with Board of Regents Policy: Safety of Minors, this administrative policy, and any applicable federal, state, and local laws. Non-compliance may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Programs may be suspended during an investigation or discontinued, if serious violations of this policy have occurred. The University Police Department or local law enforcement will handle all suspected or known violations of law.
No one acting on behalf of the University may retaliate against an individual for having made a report in good faith under this policy. Any employee who engages in retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Reports of retaliation will be reviewed and investigated in the same manner in which other allegations of misconduct are handled. This provision aligns with Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct.
This policy does not apply to a parent, guardian, or other adult who is accompanying a minor while participating in a program and who is not a volunteer or staff for that program.
The program requirements section of this policy does not apply to:
- Faculty and other teaching personnel who only interact with minors who are registered students in credit-bearing courses, unless a background check is required under Administrative Policy: Background Checks and Verifications;
- Programs that are open to the general public where minors are only incidentally present, generally with an adult. Typical examples are public lectures, athletic events, museums, arboretum/nature centers, and theaters.
- Work involving minors as human subjects in University research because it is overseen through Institutional Research Board protocols.
Only in rare and unusual situations will an exception to this policy be granted. Individuals may submit a written request to the policy owner who will forward the request to the Vice President of Human Resources. The Vice President of Human Resources, in consultation with the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Office of General Counsel, (or their delegates) will be responsible for determining whether an exception to the policy will be granted. If the request is from a system campus other than the Twin Cities campus, the appropriate Chancellor will be consulted in reaching a decision whether to grant an exception.
REASON FOR POLICY
To implement Board of Regents Policy: Safety of Minors and the reporting requirements found in Minnesota Statute Â§626.556 (Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors). It is the University's responsibility to put in place operational rules and controls for facilities and programs that reduce the risk of harm to minors. This policy and related guidance incorporate both U-wide requirements as well as expectations for individual programs.
- A person who accompanies and looks after a minor(s).
- Criminal Background Check
- A review of state and federal criminal databases to determine whether an individual has a criminal history in any jurisdiction where the individual currently resides or has resided.
- Direct Contact
- Positions that involve the possibility of providing care, supervision, guidance or control of minors and/or routine interaction with minors.
- An adult who looks after and who is legally responsible for a minor.
- Any act taken on University property or in connection with any University related group or activity that endangers the physical and/or mental health or safety of an individual (including, without limitation, an act intended to cause personal degradation or humiliation) or that destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation in, admission to, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group or organization.
- The steps taken to analyze all relevant information regarding an allegation and then determine whether sufficient evidence exists to find that misconduct occurred.
- Minor (children)
- A person under the age of eighteen (18).
- A violation of local, state, or federal law or University policy.
- National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)
- The Government website that links public state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries from a national search site. The NSOPW provides up-to-date information as provided by each jurisdiction.
- The failure of the minor's caregiver to:
- supply the children with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical or mental health care, or appropriate supervision;
- protect the child from conditions or actions that endanger the child;
- take steps to ensure that the child is educated according to the law; or
- expose a child to certain drugs during pregnancy.
- One-On-One Contact
- Personal, unsupervised interaction between any program staff and a participant without at least one other program staff, parent or legal guardian being present.
- Overnight Stay
- A program is considered to include an overnight stay if the activities extend into the late evening hours and into the period normally considered to be overnight (past midnight). This definition applies regardless of whether the minors participating in the program are intended to sleep, or be involved on any other type of program activity.
- Physical Abuse
- Any physical injury or threat of harm or substantial injury, inflicted by a caregiver upon a child other than by accidental means. The impact of physical abuse can range from minor bruises to severe internal injuries and death. Physical abuse does not include reasonable and moderate physical discipline of a child that does not result in an injury.
- A planned event or series of events, activities, or educational experiences offered by academic or administrative units of the University for minors as the primary participants. This includes but is not limited to workshops, sport camps, academic camps, conferences, pre-enrollment visits, 4H or extension programs and similar activities. It does not include programs designed for students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs, except the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options program.
- Program Leader
- Individual responsible for the oversight and compliance components of a covered program(s). Specifies the identification requirement for their program staff (badges or equivalent).
- Program Staff
- All individuals, paid or unpaid, who work or volunteer in a covered program and regularly interact with, supervise, chaperone or otherwise oversee minors in program activities or recreational and/or residential facilities. This includes faculty, staff, volunteers, (including student employees) and other individuals.
- Report in Good Faith
- An individual who reasonably believes that a violation has occurred and reports the incident.
- Taking an adverse action against an individual because of the individual's good faith participation in the protected activity of reporting suspected misconduct. Examples of retaliation include, but are not limited to: impeding academic advancement, departing from any customary academic or employment practice regarding the individual, and termination of position, demotion, threats, and marginalization of the individual. A causal relationship between good faith participation in the protected activity of reporting and an adverse action is needed to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred.
- Sexual Abuse
- The subjection of a child to a criminal sexual act or threatened act by a person responsible for the child's care or by a person who has a significant relationship to the child or is in a position of authority.
- Sex and Violent Offender Registry Check
- A review of the Sex and Violent Offender Registry to determine whether an individual has any undisclosed convictions for sexual assault or abuse or violent crimes.
- Sponsorship by the University
- Any program funded, controlled or conducted by the University for or involving minors. This term does not include programs serving minors who are accompanied by parents or adult chaperones.
- A confidential reporting service administered by the Office of Institutional Compliance for the purpose of receiving reports of potential law or policy violations through a toll free number (1-866-294-8680) or Web site (www.Ureport.ethicspoint.com).
- Any organizational entity within the University that has budgetary authority. A unit includes, but is not limited to, colleges, departments, center, institutions, offices and programs.
- University Community Member
- University faculty, staff, students (including student employees), University guests, volunteers, contractors, vendors, or employees of an affiliated entity.
- University Property/Facilities
- Includes all outdoor areas on University property as well as any enclosed area of a structure or portion thereof, where the structure is owned and/or being occupied or operated by the University of Minnesota. This also includes the residence halls.
- All Individuals
- Report good faith concerns about possible violations of physical or sexual abuse, or neglect to local, state, or federal law or University policy governing any University activity. Are truthful and cooperative in investigations of alleged wrongdoing.
- Program Staff (faculty, staff, volunteers, and student employees)
- Must meet the eligibility requirements for participation in a program for minors (complete the background checking and training course prior to participating in activities with minors.) Complete background checking and training every three years. Must comply with health and safety measures and safeguards.
- Program Leader
- Ensure that all program staff have successfully completed their background checks (both initially and every three years thereafter) and required training prior to involving them in one or more programs for minors. Submit background check forms to OHR. Register new programs and verify, at least annually, the existing program information held at the campus level, as required. Establish safeguards that adequately address health and safety considerations for minors. Post program information on the web.
- Post information regarding their programs on the web and link to the U-Wide program site.
- Chancellors and Executive Vice President and Provost
- Identify an individual/unit who will be responsible for managing program registration and verification on each campus.
- Deans, Vice Presidents, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors
- Ensure timely follow-up and resolution of reported allegations in respective college or unit. Ensure that retaliation in response to the good faith reporting of violations of law or University policy does not occur. Assure that programs under their administration are complying with the policy.
- Designated Official
- Individuals from participating schools must ensure that their employees or volunteers who accompany minors to the event are in compliance with Minnesota state law with respect to background and training.
- Chief Compliance Officer
- Administer UReport, a confidential reporting service. Work collaboratively with responsible offices to address reported allegations of misconduct and communicate results of these efforts according to established procedures. Coordinate with the General Counsel and the Director of the Office of Internal Audit in communicating potential serious violations to the President and the Board of Regents.
- General Counsel
- Conduct investigations where the assertions of the attorney-client privilege and/or other legal issues require the General Counsel's involvement. Consult and coordinate with the Directors of the Offices of Internal Audit and Institutional Compliance as appropriate. Advise human resources staff with review of background check results and determination of eligibility. Communicate with the President and the Board of Regents regarding potential serious legal violations.
- Human Resource Liaison
- Collaborate with responsible administrators to respond to concerns about retaliation or unfair treatment of individuals for having reported in good faith suspected violations of law or University policy.
- Non-University Organizations
- Certify that the training and criminal background checks specified in this policy have been completed by their program staff. Protect the health and safety of minors participating in their programs.
- Office of Human Resources (OHR)
- Advise units as to whether individuals are eligible to participate in University-sponsored programs for minors, based on background verifications. Facilitate the background verification process through outside vendors for units.
- University Police Department or Local Law Enforcement
- Handle all suspected or known violations of law.
- Vice President for Human Resources
- Respond to concerns of retaliation and appoint Human Resources Liaison to protect against retaliation. Annually notify employees of responsibility to report concerns and where to report them.
- Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct
- Board of Regents Policy: Safety of Minors
- Administrative Policy: Background Checks and Verifications
- Administrative Policy: Reporting and Addressing Concerns of Misconduct
- Administrative Procedure: Conducting Background Checks and Verifications
- November 2014 - Major Revision. Comprehensive Review: Provides key implementation materials (registration instructions and tool, core training, and guidelines for health and safety.) Specifies the applicability of the requirements to non-University entities hosting events for k-12 schools. Clarifies OHR's role in the hiring decision as it relates to interpreting the background check results. Covers details around guest speakers or guests of programs, and emphasizes the inclusion of student employees.
- September 2013 - New Policy. 1. Fulfills a commitment made to the Board of Regents in October 2012, and supports the new Board of Regents Policy: Safety of Minors by providing the details and processes directing individuals and units that host or have contact with minors. 2. Identifies the necessary steps for notification when child abuse or suspected child abuse if encountered. 3. Requires at least annual registration of programs; and specifies that background checking and training occur every three years. 4. Articulates the same training and background checking expectations for individual from non-University entities using University facilities.