Keeping Minors Safe on College Campuses
Ensure a Safe Environment when Minors are on Your College Campus
Individuals under 18 years of age visit college campuses every day whether it be to watch a performance, visiting to make a decision about acceptance, attending sports programs, camps, big/little peer groups, or visiting a family member. Sometimes they come with supervision and other times they don’t and they may or may not stay overnight in a residence hall, or attend a class. Whatever the reason for minors being on college campuses, their safety is a top priority. Below are 4 ways you can work toward mitigating risk and keeping minors safe while they’re on your campus.
Effective training is one of the simplest ways to ensure safety. They say knowledge is power, and training provides knowledge, which in turn is power to avoid unsafe situations. Anyone who will be interacting with minors should go through a set training program which includes signs of child abuse and sexual assault. Some people who need to receive training are coaches, resident assistants, professors, and recruiters. The college should decide how often training is conducted and cover topics such as reporting laws, policies and procedures, and legal implications for failing to report abuse.
Supervision of minors is critical to their safety and reducing the possibility of liability issues. It can be difficult to keep genders separated, but having safeguards in place can reduce the risk of incidents. When supervisors and minors are together, there should be a group of at least three other people and two adults should always be present. If minors are staying on campus overnight, they should be paired with a responsible adult, and accountability checks should be in place. Most states have adult to child ratio laws so ensure research is done on different age groups for minors in your state and follow the ratio laws to avoid legal issues.
Safety procedures begin before minors are even on campus. Anyone with the possibility of working and interacting with minors should go through a thorough screening process and in depth background check. Accountability protocol should be discussed with all supervisors prior to minors arriving for their activities. When they do arrive, hold a safety brief and explain the rules they are expected to follow, and give them information on how to contact campus security if the need arises. Lay out all expectations at the first meeting and uphold throughout their visit.
Mitigating risk is crucial, but mitigation cannot happen without preplanning. Have up-to-date liability waivers signed by parents/guardians, as well as insurance information in case of emergency, and emergency contact information for each minor under your supervision. Legalities are cumbersome but they avoid liability issues in case of emergencies and protect not only the institution, but also supervisors. The biggest reason for mitigation however, is to mitigate any risks associated with activities involving minors, keeping them as safe as possible.
Anytime individuals under the age of 18 are involved, additional risks, such as preventing abuse must be planned and trained for. Hosting minors at your college campus is no exception, preplanning and effective training are critical to mitigating risk and protecting not only your institution, but also the youth involved. What types of activities does your campus host in which minors are present and how do you keep them safe and mitigate danger? Let us know in the comments below.