Guideline for Protecting Minors

The purpose of the Protecting Minors on Campus Training is to provide campus administrators, faculty, staff, students, volunteers and affiliates sponsoring youth programs and/or events on the University of Montana campus guidance in developing and employing policies, protocols and strategies to plan their program activities and provide a safe environment for their youth participants and employees.

University policy No.704 requires criminal background investigations prior to employing permanent staff members, contract administrators, contract professionals, all faculty members, individuals on Letters of Appointment, and designated temporary staff members.  

Planning

Thoughtful planning is the most important tool to help protect participating youth and staff during your program activities.  Have an adequate plan in place that embrace good risk management.  Remember you are the risk owners responsible for addressing the risk issues.  Consider:

  • Risk Assessment – Identify your risks. What can go wrong?
  • Screening – Have diligent selection process in place when hiring staff and volunteers with thorough reference and background checks.
  • Loss Control:  See best practices that are included in the training and resources provided
  • Policies and Procedures – Have in place clear and comprehensive policies and procedures
  • Training – Require training for all staff and volunteers
  • Insurance and Risk Transfer – Is there adequate insurance and Acknowledgements of Risk in place?
  • Conduct Requirements – Outline behaviors, expectations, rules and disciplinary measures.

The Office of Legal Counsel can also assist with providing acknowledgement of risk and consent forms.  The Campus Risk Manager can assist with insurance and liability and risk reduction strategies.

Recommended Strategies

  • Adequate supervision & staff to minor ratios
  • Interactions- Avoid one-on-one, Two deep leadership, always in view of others
  • Separate Accommodations – Overnight accommodations, Shower and bathroom facilities
  • Privacy – Respect privacy, Use of digital devices, policies, photo/videos & audio
  • Safety and Security – bullying/hazing, appropriate attire, releasing campers and access
  • Field Trips/Transportation – rules, consent, adequate ratios, vehicle safety, & insurance
  • Appropriate Communication – Out-of-program communication, on-line,

Types and Signs of Child Abuse 

Child maltreatment and abuse may take several forms:  Neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.  While sexual abuse and child molestation typically occurs in family settings, it also arises in youth serving program.  Child abuse is generally a crime of opportunity.  Most recent cases involving educators were perpetrated by an adult that had no known prior background.  The opportunities were enabled through an environment that permitted unsupervised contact.  Minimize the opportunity for one-on-one contact in non-public space and eliminate the opportunity for a crime or even a false allegation.  Three conditions that encourage child molestation:

  • Access – child molesters look for opportunities where they have access to their victims
  • Privacy – they seek opportunities to be alone with the child.
  • Control -  child molesters are master manipulators with adults and children “grooming” to gain trust

Be Aware of the Warning Signs.  Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Understand Child Protection Laws

Programs working with minors are responsible for becoming familiar with and understanding all applicable Federal and State laws and determine whether they are a mandated reports under Montana State Law (MCA§41-3-201).  Even if you are not a mandatory reporter you may report suspected child abuse and neglect to the DPHHS, Child and Protective Services Division – 1(866)5437.

Websites that are collecting information from children under the age of thirteen are required to comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Children’s Online Privacy Protection act (COPPA)

Background Checks

Reporting      

Programs should have clear concise guidance developed on Reporting, Response and Recovery Post Incident – communication plan, social media, crisis management, and appropriate investigative process and debrief

  • UMPD (406)243-4000  contact immediately in the event of an emergency or crime in progress on campus
  • Emergency:  911 report to local law enforcement off campus
  • UMPD: Non-Emergency (406) 243-6131 
  • MT DPHHS if you are a mandatory reporter and have reason to believe a child is a victim of abuse report immediately:  1-866-820-5437; Regional office: 1(406)523-4100 or on-line:  www.dphhs.mt.gov
  • UM Office of Legal Counsel: (406) 243-4742
  • UM Risk Management:  (406) 243-2700

Guidelines for Minors in Laboratories

These guidelines specify the health and safety requirements for minors while in University laboratories. These requirements and restrictions apply regardless of whether the minor is present as a visitor, volunteer, employee, or registered student at the University. The goal of this policy is to ensure the safety of minors in our University laboratories while encouraging research projects that involve youth. (see specific guidelines)

Training and Other Resources      

Protecting Minors on Campus – UM’s power point training for faculty, staff, students and volunteers

Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Conduct for Working with Minors

Shine a Light: Protecting Children on Campus' United Educators Training Video  

This video highlights the warning signs of sexual misconduct
against minors and the importance of reporting suspicious behavior.  
This video will help adults on campus:  Recognize warning signs manifested
by abused children; detect “red flag” situations that may be indicative of abuse;
and know the importance of reporting potentially abusive situations.

Montana School Guidelines for the Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect 2015-2016

Gallagher Higher Education Practices – Managing the Risk of Minors on Campus

Summary:  8 Crucial Areas to Preventing and Detecting Abuse:

  1. Policies and Procedures -  Clear and Comprehensive
  2. Screening/ Selection – Quality screening of all employees & volunteers.  Personal interviews to include questions during screening about whether individual has ever been convicted for any crime, including sex-related or child abuse related offenses and at a minimum checking sexual predator registry.  Best practices include background checks.
  3. Training – All staff and volunteers should do Minor Protection Training.
  4. Monitor/Supervision – Quality monitoring & supervision of program staff and relationships with clients, both on and off premises.
  5. Consumer Participation – Institution can educate parents and guardians on program rules and expectations (hold parent/guardian orientation)
  6. Feedback Systems – Maintain a variety of feedback forums for staff, parents, volunteers, youth and others to be able to express concerns of potential molestation.  (At least one anonymous reporting mechanism can be helpful)
  7. Response – Respond effectively don’t down-play (first priority is to protect the child)
  8. Administrative Practices – Actively manage private spaces, third party requirements, media management plan, regularly review policies and lessons learned