Safety of Minors
Frequently Asked Questions
- I am an instructor with PSEO students in my class. Will I be required to undergo a background check and complete training?
Faculty and other teaching personnel, who only interact with minors who are registered students in credit-bearing courses, are not required to undergo the criminal background checks nor satisfy the training requirements of this policy. Review Administrative Policy: Background Checks and Verifications to see if a background check is required independent of this policy.
- I have a program involving minors that includes an overnight stay. Will all program staff be required to take the training and complete a background check before participating?
- I am a non-University organization renting space at the University. I do not currently have a training course. May I use the University's training module?
Yes. The U of M Training Hub allows guest access. Guests need to wait approximately one hour after creation of a guest account before logging in.
- I want to use a release or waiver for the minors in my program. What form should I use?
There are several options available in the U of M Contracts Library, under Other Agreements, Waivers & Releases. If you do not find one that fits your program, please contact the Office of General Counsel at 612-624-4100 or email@example.com.
- I use volunteers in my program, both adults and minors. Is there a document we should use to formalize their role?
Please ask all volunteers to read and sign OGC-SC214, found in the U of M Contract Library, under Other Agreements, Volunteer Agreements.
- I represent a U of M student organization. Does this policy apply to us?
Please contact the Student Activities office. They can help your group determine whether the policy applies, and how to comply. The answer depends in part on the classification of your student group.
Minors in University of Minnesota Research Labs
- I am conducting research that involves a program for youth, but IRB said the program is exempt from their coverage. Do the registration, training and background checks apply to my research program?
The administrative policy provides an exclusion from coverage for research as follows: “Work involving minors as human subjects in University research because it is overseen through Institutional Research Board protocols.” Research that is exempt is not being overseen by IRB, so the Safety of Minors policy provisions apply. The program should be registered, and the background checks and training may apply depending on the nature of the program.
- I want to employ a high school student in my research lab. What do I need to do?
The Safety of Minors (SOM) policy covers U of M programs intended primarily for minors (see definition of program in Safety of Minors Administrative Policy). Employment is not a program primarily intended for minors so the SOM policy does not apply to hiring minors. We do recommend that lab staff avoid being alone with a minor. When one-on-one consultation is needed for discipline, mentoring or instructional purposes, the conversation should take place within view (not hearing distance) of others and another staff member should be aware that this private conversation is taking place.
DEHS's policy on Minors in the Lab does apply. Contact your HR rep.
- I want to have a high school student volunteer in my research lab. What do I need to do?
If a volunteer placement in a research lab is arranged through a program run by a professional association or a high school, it is not U of M program so the Safety of Minors policy does not apply. The program owner is responsible for establishing appropriate safeguards, not the U of M. Training and criminal background checks would be recommended, but not required.
If the U of M (through a college or department, or individual faculty) arranges for minors to volunteer in a research lab, the Safety of Minors policy does apply. The department or other administrative unit can file one annual registration for the 'program' of individual faculty hosting minors as volunteers in research labs. The registration commits that training and background checks have been or will be completed before the program (e.g., a student entering a research lab) begins.
The Safety of Minors policy requires program staff to go through the training and background checks. Program staff are defined in the policy as "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." In some labs, all staff will "regularly interact with, supervise, chaperone or otherwise oversee minors", and in others, perhaps only one or two people may fit that definition.
Accountability for implementation of the SOM policy lies within the normal administrative lines. Business judgments may be different for a group of elementary students versus a single high school senior who has received lab safety training.