When working with minors (persons who have not yet reached the age of 18), 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 (MOU) exists as to the responsibilities of both organizations. The MOU will describe who is responsible for providing relevant insurance, waivers, and permission slips, etc..
Brown will typically defer to outside organizations on questions of required training and/or background checks. If background checks are required, the MOU will document who is responsible for conducting and paying for background checks.
In most instances, a teacher or other supervisor will be present while Brown students are working with minors. If this is not the case, Brown students will be required to attend training on protecting the safety of minors, abuse and mandatory reporting.*
In the rare instance when recognized Brown student organizations 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, an exception to this policy may be made where a safety plan is developed and approved by the Director of the Student Activities Office, The plan would include waivers/permission slips, safety training and other reasonable precautions.
Working with Minors on Campus
When Brown students are 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 (e.g., Swearer Center or Student Activities Office)
For minors over the age of 12, permission slips and/or waivers will be required, however, the presence of parents, guardians and/or university staff is not required. Brown students working unsupervised with minors must attend a safety training.*
Under no circumstances are Brown students permitted to transport minors from one location to another.
The training referenced above is currently offered by the Swearer Center by the Director of Community Partnerships. The training includes content addressing behavioral expectations and protecting the safety of minors, mandatory reporting laws around abuse and inappropriate behaviors, and reporting mechanisms.
Under Rhode Island law, any person who has reasonable cause to know or suspect any minor has been abused or neglected is required to report that information within twenty-four (24) hours to Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). Brown students working in established programs should immediately report to their contact on campus (e.g. Swearer Center staff member) and, if applicable, to the program coordinator of the outside partner organization so that the staff member and program coordinator can determine whether reasonable cause exists to make a report to DCYF. If this reporting line is not possible, a direct report should be made to the RI Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) on their 24 hour hotline: 1.800.RICHILD (1.800.742.4453).