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C26.0 Protection of Minors Policy

  1. Scope

    This policy applies to all departments, units and areas of the university, faculty, staff, volunteers, students, interns, employees of temporary employment agencies, independent contractors/consultants, and Third Parties who work on campus or in connection with any event, program, activity, or project involving Minors off campus that is sponsored or offered by the university.  These individuals and groups are responsible for understanding and complying with this policy and the any implementing guidance established by the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance.

    RIT's global campuses and study abroad sites hosting Minors are expected to adhere to this policy in a manner that is consistent with local law, practice, and policy.

    This policy does not apply to (1) single performances or events open to the general public not targeted toward children; or (2) events that may be attended by Minors who are accompanied by a parent/guardian. RIT expects parents or legal guardians to provide supervision over Minors on campus at all times except when the Minor is involved in a RIT-sponsored program or program occurring on campus that is hosted by a Third Party.

  2. Policy Statement

    Rochester Institute of Technology (the “university” or “RIT”) is committed to the safety and protection of Minors while they visit the RIT campus, attend university-offered programs that take place on and off RIT's campus, or participate in Third Party programs and activities with a connection to RIT. The procedures in this policy provide reporting requirements for activities involving Minors as well as program registration, staffing, and supervision requirements, to be implemented with the protection of Minors guidance established by the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance. This will ensure a high level of care and successful experiences for youth. Individuals within the scope of this policy must follow the requirements of this policy as well as the implementing guidance.

    The director of Youth Protection and Compliance shall create a Youth Protection Advisory Committee to review this policy, guidance, and whatever matter the director believes is relevant or appropriate to uphold this policy and promote youth safety. 

    Program organizers and/or faculty, staff, or students hosting programs or activities with Minors should consult with the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance for advice and guidance regarding adjustments and other exceptions. 

  3. Rationale

    Program staff and volunteers, as well as the entire RIT community, are expected to conduct themselves with the highest standard of moral and ethical behavior when interacting with Minors. The purpose of this policy is to take affirmative steps to safeguard and protect Minors from harm while attending RIT-sponsored programs and events or participating in Third Party programs and activities with a connection to RIT, consistent with federal, state, and local statutes or regulations related to youth protection.

  4. Definitions

    1. "Authorized Adult" means an individual age eighteen (18) years and older, paid or unpaid, who has completed the youth program screening process and is permitted to interact with, supervise, chaperone, or otherwise come into contact with Minors as part of a program.

    2. “Child Abuse” means inflicting or allowing to be inflicted upon a Minor physical injury by other than accidental means that causes or creates a substantial risk of death, serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of physical or emotional health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ, including abuse that can be characterized as sexual in nature.  Typically, peer-to-peer physical (non-sexual) injury does not trigger the reporting obligations established in the policy, but requires a case-by-case analysis.

    3. “Child Neglect” means impairment or imminent danger of impairment of a Minor’s physical, mental, or emotional condition as a result of the failure of the Minor's parent or other person legally responsible for the Minor's care to exercise a minimum degree of care.

    4. “Employees” means regular faculty, regular staff and adjuncts as those terms are defined in RIT’s Employee Work Classification Policy (E01.0).

    5. "Mandated Reporter” means an individual required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to New York state.  The Policy does not alter a Mandated Reporter’s obligations established in New York state law, but rather establishes a policy-based reporting duty for members of the university community.

    6. “Minor” means a person under the age of eighteen (17 years old or younger), including any RIT employee or intern who is under 18 years of age, any matriculated student who is under 18 years of age, students who are “dually enrolled” in university programs while also enrolled in primary or secondary schools, or students enrolled in an early college high school affiliated with the university.

    7. “Program” includes, but is not limited to, any program, activity, event, or other opportunity designed specifically for and primarily to serve Minors that is:

      1. Sponsored by the university, regardless of whether it is held on or off campus or as a virtual program;

      2. Sponsored by a Third Party in RIT facilities; or

      3. Sponsored by a Third Party at an off-campus location in which Authorized Adults engage through their university roles.

        General courses offered specifically to the matriculated RIT student body are not considered "programs" under this policy.

        Examples of programs include camps for school children, a laboratory experience or internship for high school students, workshops for high school students, private or group lessons for children, youth team practices, campus tours, or other field trips.

    8. “Program Organizer” means the Authorized Adult with overall supervisory responsibilities for a program involving Minors.  The program organizer is the Authorized Adult who oversees the day-to-day program operations, which includes interacting with and supervising the Minors involved in the program.  Examples of program organizers include, among others, a camp director, a staff member coordinating a tutoring program, faculty or staff who bring a Minor to campus for the opportunity to intern, volunteer, or shadow outside of a structured program for Minors; or the faculty advisor of a student group sponsoring a youth-serving activity.

    9. “Program Staff” means all Authorized Adults and Minors who have successfully completed the program staff screening process who are designated by a program organizer to be involved with a program, including RIT employees, students, and other individuals.

    10. “RIT Community” means any individual authorized to be on the RIT campus including administrators, faculty, staff, students and student organizations, alumni, and external organizations and individuals in their operations with RIT.

    11. “RIT Facilities” means any physical location owned or leased by the university, its subsidiaries or affiliates, wherever located.

    12. “RIT-sponsored Programs” means programs that RIT operates or sponsors or in which RIT students, faculty, or staff engage through their university roles.

    13. “Sex Discrimination” has the same meaning as set forth in RIT’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (Policy C06.0) and the Student Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy - Title IX (Policy D19.0).

    14. “Sexual Harassment” has the same meaning as set forth in RIT’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (Policy C06.0) and the Student Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy - Title IX (Policy D19.0).

    15. “Students” means RIT undergraduate students, graduate students, non-matriculated students, and students in not-for-credit programs.

    16. “Third Party” means an external organization or individual not affiliated with the university, including but not limited to, organizations using RIT facilities under an approved facility and service use contract as well as contractors, vendors and other service providers with whom the university has an approved contract or other use agreement.  This includes, for example, contracted services for dining services, and facilities operations.

    17. “Virtual Program” means any program, event, or activity for Minors conducted entirely or partially remotely by utilizing an online platform(s) for electronic communication.

    18. “Volunteers” means individuals who are not RIT employees or students but provide uncompensated assistance to the university or to RIT employees or students as part of RIT-sponsored programs involving Minors and are subject to some or all of the requirements of the policy depending on their level of contact with Minors as defined by the policy.

  5. Reporting Suspected or Known Abuse or Neglect

    1. Duty to Report

      Any member of the RIT community who has knowledge of or reasonable suspicion to believe that a Minor has been subjected to Child Abuse, Child Neglect, or Sexual Harassment on campus or in connection with a program must immediately report the known or suspected abuse, neglect, or Sexual Harassment.  All known or suspected abuse, neglect, or Sexual Harassment shall be promptly reported to Public Safety at (585)475-3333 (V/TTY).  Public Safety shall promptly notify law enforcement and/or any governing agency required to receive such reports.

    2. Nothing in this Policy shall prevent any individual from also:

      1. Notifying the program organizer if appropriate;  or

      2. Filing an anonymous report to the RIT Office of Compliance and Ethics at (866) 294-9358, (866) 294-9572 (TTY); or https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/11003/index.html or

      3. Contacting local law enforcement or the following external reporting agencies:

        1. New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment at (800)342-3720, (800)638-5163 (TDD/TTY) or (800)342-3720 (Video Relay System)

        2. Monroe County Child Protective Services at (585)461-5690.

    3. Non-Retaliation Protection for Good Faith Reports

      Retaliation shall not be tolerated. Retaliatory acts against anyone acting in good faith who has reported suspected inappropriate conduct in accordance with this policy, or who has been involved in reporting, investigating, or responding to inappropriate conduct, is a violation of this policy. Retaliatory acts may include, but are not limited to:

      1. Employment actions affecting salary, promotion, job duties, work schedules, and/or work locations;

      2. Actions negatively impacting a student’s academic record or progress; or

      3. Any action, including harassment and intimidation, affecting the campus environment

        Any member of the RIT community who believes they are the subject of retaliation or reprisal for making a good faith report under this policy may report such allegations of retaliation to Human Resources. Individuals may also file a report through the anonymous, independently operated Ethics and Compliance Hotline by calling (866) 294-9358 or (866) 294-9572 (TTY), or going online to file the report. See also, RIT’s Whistleblower Policy.

    4. This policy does not alter any mandated reporter’s legal duty to directly report suspected child abuse pursuant to New York state law.

    5. Duty to Cooperate with Investigations of Abuse of Minors

      All members of the RIT community shall cooperate with investigations of alleged Abuse, Neglect, or Sexual Harassment of Minors, including government-initiated, law enforcement-initiated, and/or internal RIT investigations.  All members of the RIT community shall also cooperate with investigations of alleged violations of this policy and any applicable campus procedures.

    6. Temporary Measures after Allegations of Inappropriate Conduct

      If an allegation of inappropriate conduct has been made against an individual who is participating in a program, the allegation will be reviewed pursuant to applicable university procedures and guidelines. The university may also take necessary interim actions before determining whether a violation has occurred, including removing the individual or any other individual from any further participation in the program until such allegation has been resolved to the university’s satisfaction.
       
  6. Procedures for Programs
     
    1. Program Registration

      All programs must be registered by the respective program organizer with the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance with sufficient advance notice to meet requirements of this policy. Recurring programs must be registered for each new occurrence.

    2. Program Staff Screening Process

      An individual’s role with the university and within a program determines which elements of the screening process are required before the individual may begin interacting with Minors in that program. Those who successfully complete the process may be designated as Program Staff.

      All employees and volunteers, whether permanent or temporary, and students who will have direct, regular, and/or frequent contact with Minors as a part of performing their university jobs or assigned roles in connection with a program, and any individual staying overnight for a program, must complete the full screening process.

      The screening process includes the following elements:

      1. Application to participate for volunteers

      2. Annual background check

      3. Youth protection training on recognizing, identifying, and reporting suspected Child Abuse and Neglect

      4. Acknowledgement of completion of training and standards of conduct, including understanding of reporting responsibilities

        Any requested exception to these requirements must be approved by the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance.

    3. Supervision of Minors

      1. Supervision at all times by Authorized Adults is required for all Minors participating in a youth program under this policy, where the care, custody, and control of Minors is entrusted to the university or a Third Party.

      2. Program organizers and program staff should make reasonable efforts to avoid one-on-one in-person contact or electronic communication with a Minor unless such contact or communication has been approved by the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance for that activity.

    4. Duty to Report Suspected or Known Abuse or Neglect

      Program organizers and program staff must report known or suspected Child Abuse, Child Neglect, or Sexual Harassment according to the procedures detailed in Section V above.

    5. Evidence of Compliance by Third Parties

      Third Parties of non-RIT programs using RIT facilities shall provide appropriate executed agreements to the Office of Special Events and Conferences at least thirty (30) days prior to the scheduled use of RIT facilities.

  7. Enforcement of Policy; Sanctions for Violations

    Compliance with this policy will be monitored by the Office of Youth Protection and Compliance. The policy guidance and all information related to protection of minors will be available on the Youth Protection page on the K-12 University Center website. Individuals may direct questions or concerns to youth@rit.edu.

    In addition to any sanction required by local, state, or federal laws or regulations, failure to comply with the provisions of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Other sanctions may include dismissal from the university, cancellation of a program, and/or issuance of a campus ban, disqualification from participation in future volunteer activities, or the commencement of student conduct proceedings. Failure to comply by any Third Party may lead to consequences, including but not limited to immediate termination of the university’s contractual or other relationship with the Third Party. The university may also take necessary interim actions before determining whether a violation has occurred.

Responsible Office:  K-12 University Center, Office of the Provost

Approved:  February 27, 2021

Effective:  February 27, 2021

Policy History:
April 1, 2019 (Interim approval)

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