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The Safe Supervision of Minors: Best Practices

Learn about the best practices for ensuring the safe supervision of minors on campus.

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Background checks for employees

Thorough criminal background checks for all employees working with youth are a longstanding best practice. Include screening against the National Sex Offender Public Web Site to improve effectiveness of Live Scans for employees working with minors (e.g. any person under 18 years old), supervisors of those employees and the administrators of programs that serve minors.

Background checks should be completed prior to beginning work with minors and repeated every three years thereafter unless a nationwide “Live Scan” was used for the search protocol. University insurance used to fund the defense of alleged sexual misconduct complaints is generally not available to UC San Diego Departments that fail to implement criminal background checks.

Learn about background checks at UC San Diego.

Departments are also encouraged to conduct criminal background checks on all volunteers serving in programs involving minors. For purposes of this policy, parents supervising their own children are not considered volunteers, but should not be left alone with other minors.

Private interactions between adults and minors

Private or secluded interactions between an adult and a minor are generally discouraged, unless they are necessary to perform essential requirements of the program.

Whenever possible activities involving minors should follow the “rule of three” (e.g. at least three people should be involved in all aspects of the activity). Although two minors and one adult is an acceptable combination, a combination of three consisting of two adults and one minor, with one of the adults being a campus employee is much safer.

When private interactions are necessary to perform essential requirements of the program, program administrators should implement controls that reduce the risk of harm to minors. Typical controls include but are not limited to:

  • Conducting interactions in plain sight of others, such as at an on campus dining hall or café.
  • Conducting interactions in an office or other unlocked space with open doors and windows in a building open to the public at the time of the interaction.
  • Informing in advance at least one other adult connected with the activity (preferably the adult’s supervisor) that the adult will be alone with a minor.
  • Asking another adult to randomly drop in on the interaction.
  • Immediately documenting any unusual incident, including but not limited to behavioral problems, injuries, or interactions that might be misinterpreted.

Adult-to-child ratios

For pre-school children, campus units must meet or exceed the adult-to-child supervision ratios described in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, or other applicable regulations. Only the UC San Diego Early Childhood Education Center and Mesa Child Development Center are properly licensed, staffed and equipped to provide childcare services on campus.

Camps must follow the adult-child supervision ratios described in regulations applicable to their operations.

Behavioral expectations for adults interacting with minors

1. Respect

Minors must be treated respectfully at all times, regardless of their actions or behavior.

2. Nondiscrimination

Minors must be treated fairly regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or any other basis in accordance with the University’s Principles of Community and Nondiscrimination Policies.

3. Appropriate age groups

To discourage bullying and physical abuse, minors should be separated into groups according to age, and their interactions should be limited to other children of the same approximate age whenever possible.

4. Personal conduct of adults

Adults participating in a campus activity involving minors will refrain from conduct that negatively influences the minor’s behavior. Conduct to avoid includes but is not limited to:

  • Use of profanity
  • Off-color jokes or suggestive banter
  • Discussing inappropriate personal problems or sexual experiences
  • Viewing sexually suggestive materials or making those materials available to minors
  • Comments about other peoples’ bodies
  • Use of alcohol or narcotics, and any offers of alcohol or narcotics to minors
  • Use of tobacco or smokeless cigarettes, and any offers of same to minors

5. Intervention

Adults participating in a campus activity involving minors will intervene promptly to stop harmful activities and negative interactions between minors. These activities and interactions include but are not limited to:

  • Bullying or hazing
  • Physical abuse
  • Derogatory name-calling
  • Ridicule or humiliation
  • Truth or dare, or similar games
  • Sexual activity

6. Bathroom use

Adults should use staff-only bathrooms whenever possible. If staff-only bathrooms are not available, adults should use bathrooms when no minors are present. If adults must use a bathroom when a minor is present, the adult should follow the “rule of three” described above (e.g. at least one other adult or minor should also be present).

For minors age 12 and under, adults should escort two or more minors to the bathroom for group bathroom breaks. The adult should monitor activity from outside the space and not send in more minors than the number of stalls and/or urinals available in the bathroom.

For minors 13 or older, a minor should have the permission of the adult supervising the activity in order to leave the activity and use the bathroom. The adult supervising the activity should confirm the return of the minor in a timely manner. During periods of transition from one activity to another, adults should randomly monitor bathrooms to ensure minors are not lingering or acting inappropriately in them.

7. Locker room use

Programs involving use of locker rooms should establish reasonable procedures to reduce the opportunity for undressed adults to encounter minors. Program supervisors should not use locker rooms and showers at the same time as the minors they supervise. Programs should establish supervisory methods that do not require direct observation of minors undressing or showering. For example, this may include (but is not limited to), assigning multiple minors to the area and placing adults where they can hear the group).

8. Physical contact with minors

Physical or Sexual Abuse

Physical or sexual abuse of minors is illegal and will not be tolerated.

Employees

Employees who engage in physical or sexual abuse of minors will not be entitled to defense and indemnification by the University in the event they are sued or criminally prosecuted.

Employees accused of engaging in physical or sexual abuse of minors will be removed immediately from the activity involving minors, and their alleged behavior will be referred to appropriate agencies for investigation. If found guilty they will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal in accordance with governing University policy and/or collective bargaining agreements.

Volunteers

Volunteers who engage in physical or sexual abuse of minors will not be entitled to defense and indemnification by the University in the event they are sued or criminally prosecuted.

Volunteers accused of engaging in physical or sexual abuse of minors will be removed immediately from the activity involving minors, and their alleged behavior will be referred to appropriate agencies for investigation.

9. Other physical contact

Because the campus recognizes that physical contact between non-related adults and minors can be essential to the minor’s well-being and self-esteem, program administrators are encouraged to identify safe conduct that does not pose a risk to minors participating in their programs. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Handshakes
  • High-fives and hand slapping
  • Pats on the shoulder or back
  • Side hugs
  • Feeding and grooming of babies and toddlers (including diaper changes)
  • Holding hands while escorting children below the age of 8
  • Brief contact to comfort distressed children, and appropriate contact to aid an injured minor or a minor in imminent danger of physical harm (such as a struggling swimmer)

Program administrators should also identify unsafe conduct and enforce prohibition of high risk behaviors between adults and minors. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Frontal hugs
  • Kisses
  • Lap sitting
  • Massages or rubs
  • Piggyback rides
  • Tickling
  • Touches on the buttocks, chest, or groin (except when changing diapers)
  • Wrestling
  • Any intended affection unwanted by the minor
  • Any touching conducted in private (i.e. no other adults or children present)

10. Disciplining minors

No adult associated with a campus activity involving minors may use physical punishment to manage a minor’s behavior. This prohibition includes spanking, slapping, pinching, hitting, or any other physical force.

11. Release of minors at the conclusion of the activity

Campus units in charge of activities involving minors will develop written protocols for the release of minors at the end of the activity. Campus units will supervise minors until they are picked up by an adult (authorized in advance) to take custody of the minor.

12. Non-program contact with minors

In general, private meetings and telephonic or electronic communications with minors outside of the program’s normal activities are discouraged unless they are necessary as part of the program. Include other adults in the program or parents of affected minors in the discussions whenever possible. When outside meetings/communications are absolutely necessary, the program must implement controls that reduce the risks. This includes but is not limited to: involving multiple parties/entire groups, selecting public locations, securing parental permission, etc. All activities must always abide by regulatory guidelines established for the specific program (i.e. NCAA, American Camp Association, etc.)

University employees and volunteers supervising minors should avoid responding to text messages, e-mails, and social media “posts” (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) sent by individual minors to their personal devices. The employees and volunteers should select university devices for all communication and develop program “community” bulletin boards or social networking sites to communicate with participants.

13. Gifts

Individual adults participating in campus activities involving minors may not give gifts to the minors that participate in the program. Awards or gifts for these minors must come from the program in accordance with applicable university guidelines on gifts and expenditures.

Medical treatment of minors and emergency response

Generally, all medical treatment of minors must be provided by personnel trained in accordance with the level of care required (first aid trained staff render basic first aid until professional assistance such as paramedics respond). Personnel are advised to leave the dispensing of medications (including use of epinephrine pens, aka EpiPens) to licensed medical personnel.

All minors participating in university programs must have Waiver of Liability Forms signed by their Parent or Guardian on file before participation begins. Supplement those forms with Emergency Notification information to enable staff to contact responsible parties in the event a minor is injured.

Liability waiver forms must be retained until the minor reaches the age of twenty. All programs must have Emergency Response Plans on site with clear instructions on steps to follow for medical, fire, earthquake and other emergencies, a fully stocked first aid kit, and any other resources required by the regulations applicable to the specific program.

Transportation safety

Program administrators must implement effective controls to keep minors safe in situations involving vehicular traffic. When minors are pedestrians, consider controls that include but are not limited to: high visibility lanyards, badges, vests or shirts, and assign adults leading and trailing assignments to keep the group under control while crossing streets or traversing sidewalks along busy streets.

When minors are transported in vehicles, select the safest mode of transportation available. School buses, chartered buses, and university vehicles with professional drivers are considered the preferred, safest mode of transportation (drivers with current Commercial Driver’s Licenses meet this high standard). Sufficient numbers of adults should also be assigned throughout each vehicle to provide effective supervision.

Describe traffic and transportation risks clearly in program descriptions, and account for such activities in descriptions on liability waivers and parental permission slips.

Campus research activities

Campus research activities are heavily regulated. Follow all UC San Diego approvals and protocol required for conducting research on minors, or assigning tasks for minors in university research laboratories. Supervise minors carefully, reduce their handling of hazardous materials to minimal levels, and never allow them to work alone.

Registered student organization activities involving minors

Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) are self-governing entities independent of the University. However, to ensure the safety of minors served by RSO activities, the campus strongly recommends adoption of these procedures and use of Praesidium Inc.’s on-line training resources.

Contracts with non-University of California organizations

All contractors serving UC San Diego should be apprised of this policy, and those providing services to minors on behalf of the university, or operating programs serving minors on university property, must have policies and procedures in place to reduce risks to minors.

Principal employees of the contractor are required to sign CANRA Mandated Reporter Acknowledgement Forms.

When a contractor provides services to minors, their agreement with the university must specify Sexual Misconduct Liability Insurance Coverages Requirements as recommended by UCSD Risk Management (ehsrisk@ucsd.edu) along with the standard indemnification and insurance language specified by UCSD Procurements or other appropriate departments.

Communicating with parents and guardians

All Program administrators must establish protocol for promptly notifying parents and guardians about sentinel events affecting their children (i.e. injuries, emergencies, missing children, allegations of sexual misconduct, program rule violations, etc.)

Reporting child abuse, neglect and problem behaviors

1. California Child Abuse and Reporting Act (CANRA)

As required by California CANRA legislation, any employee or administrator whose duties bring him or her in contact with minors on a regular basis is considered a mandated reporter and must report suspected abuse or neglect of a minor occurring either on campus premises, at an official campus activity, or at a program conducted by the campus. Abuse and neglect include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical injury or death inflicted by other than accidental means
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation
  • Willful endangerment
  • Unlawful corporal punishment
  • Neglect

Each UC San Diego Department identifies the Mandated Reporters on their staff.

Mandated Reporters must immediately report by telephone observed or suspected child abuse or neglect to:

  • UC San Diego Police Department: 858-534-4357 for all incidents occurring on campus.
  • The local police department, if the suspected abuse or neglect takes place off-campus.

Mandated Reporters at University Healthcare Facilities, Student Health Centers, Psychological Counseling Centers and Victim Advocacy Centers must follow their location’s reporting regulations.

The telephone report must be followed by a written report as soon as reasonably practical but in any event within 36 hours. Failure to make a mandated report may result in criminal penalties.

Mandated Reporters are also required to make an internal report. The internal report must be made promptly to either the mandated reporter’s supervisor or to the University Compliance Hotline (or by phone 800-403-4744). Supervisors who receive reports must promptly forward those reports to the hotline. These internal reports may be made anonymously.

2. California Penal Code §152.3

In addition to the CANRA regulations described above the campus will fully comply with California Penal Code §152.3, which has long required any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the murder, rape, abuse, or sexual assault of a child under 14 years old to notify a law enforcement official. Failure to notify is punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both.

Mandated reporters have immunity from criminal or civil liability for reporting as required by law.

3. Responding to Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect

All reports of suspected child abuse or neglect will be taken seriously. The UCSD Police Department will respond to such reports immediately.

The campus may also respond to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect through its Office of Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and any other appropriate investigative office.

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