When working with minors, students and student organizations should be aware of the related risks and responsibilities. Major factors to consider are the location of the interaction, whether parents or guardians are present, whether teachers, university staff or other supervision is present, and whether training is needed.
Working with Minors at an Off-Campus Location
Most students working with minors at an off-campus location do so as part of an existing partner program either established by the Swearer Center or developed with a recognized student organization. In either situation, it is required that a written Memorandum of Understanding exists as to the responsibilities of both organizations. Who is responsible for providing relevant insurance, waivers, and permission slips, etc. will be included in the MOU.
Brown will typically defer to outside organizations on questions of required training and/or background checks. If background checks are required, who is responsible for conducting and paying for them will be documented in the MOU.
In most instances, a teacher or other supervisor will be present while Brown students are working with minors. If this is not the case, students will be required to attend training on protecting the safety of minors, abuse and mandatory reporting.*
In the rare instance where Brown students are working with minors at an off-campus location and there is not an existing partner organization managing these details, a parent or guardian must be present. In very rare instances, where a safety plan is developed and approved by the Director of the Student Activities Office, an exception to this policy may be made. The plan would include waivers/permission slips, safety training and other reasonable precautions.
We discourage students from working with minors via home visits in individual private residences, but on the rare occasion that this may happen, students must be in pairs and have permission from their sponsoring organization and the Office of General Council.
Working with Minors on Campus
When working with minors under the age of 12, a parent or guardian must be present at all times. In rare instances, an exception may be made but would require approval from the overseeing department.**
For minors over the age of 12, permission slips and/or waivers will also be required , however, parents, guardians and/or university staff presence is not required. Brown students working unsupervised with minors must attend a safety training.
Under no circumstance are Brown students permitted to transport minors from one location to another.
The training referenced above is currently offered by the Swearer Center at the beginning of the academic year. The training includes content behavioral expectations and on protecting the safety of minors, mandatory reporting laws around abuse and inappropriate behaviors, and reporting mechanisms.
By law, anyone working with minors is required to report known or suspected abuse or neglect. Brown students working in established programs should report to the program coordinator either of an outside organization or their contact on campus (e.g. Swearer Center staff member) within 24 hours. If this reporting line is not possible, reports can also be given to any law enforcement officer
Reports may also be directed to the RI Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) on their 24 hour hotline: 1.800.RICHILD (1.800.742.4453).
Additional Back Up Information
** For an event on campus with minors under 12 at which parents or guardians will not be present, a plan which received the exception would include permission slips, waivers, and either a partner program administrator or university staff or faculty member presence throughout the event.
Internal Back Up Information
While initial conversations focused on the possibility of running background checks for all students working with minors, checking with peer institutions and best practices in risk management, it was shown that this serves very little purpose. Almost all information about students prior to the age of 18 would be sealed in all versions of a background check. Free checks available typically would only cover offenses in Rhode Island. The federal/national level check is expensive. A free national check of sex offender registries may be useful in some higher risk situations and would be done. All of these are also based on Social Security Number which means international students would have not record.