Campus departments that sponsor activities involving minors should administer and operate these activities according to best practices. For the purposes of this section, best practices are essentially rules of behavior with which adults who are responsible for the supervision of children should comply in order to best protect the minors in their care.
The UCSB Risk Management webpage on Best Practices for Minors on Campus draws heavily from the UC Berkeley Policy Activities Involving Minors and the UC Berkeley Risk Services website Minors on Campus. Together these two sources offer sound advice on how adults who supervise minors should behave to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the children and eliminate or reduce the University’s exposure to liability.
In addition to best practices, departments that sponsor youth activities can better protect the children in their charge by also implementing administrative and management protocols that will improve the University’s management of youth activities (go to Minors – Risk Management).
UC Berkeley’s recommended best practices are described below. Departments that sponsor activities involving minors should carefully consider the application of these or similar best practices to the administration and operation of their own youth programs.
Rule of Three
At a minimum, activities involving minors should follow the “rule of three,” i.e. at least three people should be involved in all aspects of the activity. Although two minors and one adult is an acceptable combination, it is preferable that at least two adults be involved, with one of the adults being a campus employee.
No private or secluded face-to-face interactions between one adult and one minor are permitted. The campus permits one-on-one, face-to-face interactions between an adult and a minor only when the interaction is conducted:
- In plain sight of passersby or witnesses, such as at a dining hall or café, or
- In an office or other unlocked space with (1) doors and windows open and (2) in a building open to the public at the time of the interaction.
In addition, adults involved in one-on-one, face-to-face interactions with a minor should:
- Inform in advance at least one other adult connected with the activity (preferably the adult’s supervisor) that the adult will be alone with a minor.
- Ask another adult to randomly drop in on the interaction.
- Limit physical contact with the minor to handshakes, high-fives, or pats on the shoulder.
- Immediately document any unusual incident, including but not limited to behavioral problems, injuries, or any interactions that might be misinterpreted.
Rules of Conduct for Adults
Minors will be treated respectfully at all times regardless of their actions or behavior. Minors will be treated fairly regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any other basis covered by the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy. To minimize bullying and physical abuse, groups of minors more than two years of age from each other should be kept apart to the maximum extent possible.
Adults participating in activities involving minors should not do any of the following:
- Use profanity
- Tell off-color jokes or banter suggestively
- Discuss personal problems or sexual experiences
- View sexually suggestive materials or make those materials available to minors
- Comment on other peoples’ bodies
- Use alcohol or narcotics or offer alcohol or narcotics to minors
Adults participating in a campus activity involving minors should not permit the following interactions between minors:
- Derogatory name-calling
- Ridicule or humiliation
- Truth or Dare or similar games
- Sexual touching
Physical Contact with Minors
The campus understands that physical contact between non-related adults and minors can be important to a minor’s wellbeing and self-esteem. The following types of contact are permitted:
- High-fives and hand slapping
- Pats on the shoulder or back
- Side hugs
- Feeding and grooming of babies and toddlers (including diaper changes)
- Holding hands while escorting children below the age of 8
- Other brief contact intended to comfort distressed children below the age 12 so long as another adult is witnessing it
- Teaching a physical technique that requires literal hands-on instruction, such as fingering on a musical instrument or positioning for an athletic activity, so long as it is conducted either in the open or in an interior space (1) with doors and windows open and (2) in a building open to the public at the time of the touching
- Assisting disabled minors who need assistance with a major life function, so long as at least one other person is present and observing
- Any contact to aid an injured minor or a minor in imminent danger of physical harm (such as a struggling swimmer)
- Separating minors involved in an altercation
The following types of contact are not permitted:
- Frontal hugs
- Lap sitting
- Massages or rubs
- Piggyback rides
- Touches on the buttocks, chest, or groin (except when changing diapers)
- Any intended affection unwanted by the minor
- Any touching conducted in private (i.e. no other adults or children present)
Physical or sexual abuse of minors will not be tolerated.
No adult associated with a campus activity involving minors should ever use physical punishment to manage a minor’s behavior. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, spanking, slapping, pinching, or hitting.
Supervision of Bathroom Use
Adults should use staff-only bathrooms. If no staff-only bathrooms are available, adults should use bathrooms when no minors are present. If adults must use a bathroom when a minor is present, the adult needs to follow the rule of three, i.e. at least one other adult or minor should also be present.
For minors age twelve and under, a supervising adult should escort two or more minors to the bathroom for group bathroom breaks. The adult should not send in any more minors than there are stalls and/or urinals in the bathroom. As one student exits the bathroom, another may enter. The supervising adult should stand by the doorway and ensure students are leaving the bathroom in a timely manner. If a minor under age twelve must use a bathroom alone, the minor should use a single-stall bathroom. If the only bathroom available has multiple stalls, the supervising adult should assign a classmate to stand outside the bathroom and wait for the minor to finish. If the minor, the classmate, or both do not return in a timely manner, the supervising adult should promptly check on them.
For minors thirteen or older, an adult supervising the activity should give permission for the minor to leave the activity to use the bathroom. The adult should note when the minor left for the bathroom and when the minor returned. If the minor does not return in a timely manner, the adult in charge of the activity should promptly check on the minor. During periods of transition from one activity to another, minors do not need permission to use bathrooms, but adults should randomly monitor bathrooms to ensure minors are not lingering or acting inappropriately in them.
Supervision of Locker Room Use
Adults should not change clothing or shower in locker rooms at the same time as minors, nor should they watch minors undress or shower. While minors shower, at least one adult in charge of the activity should stand within earshot of the minors to ensure that no adults are showering with them and that the minors are respectful of one another.
Release of Minors at Conclusion of Activity
Campus units in charge of activities involving minors should develop written protocols for the release of minors at the end of the activity. Campus units should supervise minors until an adult authorized in advance to take custody of the minor picks them up. However, with the advance written consent of the parents/guardians, campus units may release minors to the custody of others or may release minors to their own custody.
Campus units in charge of activities involving minors should develop protocols for extended supervision of minors in the event of a natural disaster or other unanticipated interruption of the activity, or if continuous adult supervision becomes difficult for any other reason.
Parents/guardians should be informed in advance of any walk for minors under eight years of age that includes crossing a street used by vehicles. The parents/guardians should be informed of known traffic hazards and what steps the activity involving minors will take to mitigate those hazards. Parents/guardians should provide written permission before their minors under age eight participate in such a walk.
When walking off-campus as part of the activity, minors under age twelve should wear identifying lanyards, badges, vests, or shirts. At least one adult should lead the procession and permit no minor to walk ahead. At least one adult should follow the procession and permit no minor to lag behind. The procession should stop on a regular basis for a head count. Unless safety considerations dictate otherwise, the procession should not advance until all minors are accounted for.
Parents/guardians should be informed in advance if their minor will be driven someplace. Parents/guardians should provide written permission to transport their minor via private vehicle. No adult should drive a single minor unless the driver is the minor’s parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or sibling. Except in an emergency, drivers must get the permission of their supervisor and the parent of the minor in advance before driving a single minor.
Drivers should present the supervisor of the activity involving minors an up-to-date copy of their driver record from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the driving record shows moving violations within the last three years, or a wet reckless or driving-under-the-influence conviction at any time, the driver should not be approved. Drivers who cannot or will not present copies of their driving record should not be allowed to transport minors.
If possible, drivers should use a University vehicle. The second preference is a rental vehicle obtained through a preferred UC provider. If using a privately-owned vehicle, the employee supervising the activity should determine in advance whether the private vehicle is appropriately equipped to transport minors, including, but not limited to confirming that the private vehicle has seat belts or car seats for each minor.
Drivers of private vehicles should provide a valid registration for the vehicle they are driving. They should also show the department a valid driver license for the type of vehicle they are driving and proof of insurance for at least $50,000 per bodily injury, $100,000 for all bodily injuries, and $50,000 for property damage. Drivers who fail to provide the required registration, license, or insurance should not be approved for driving minors in a private vehicle.
Minors should not be transported by motorcycle.
Vans, Buses, and Other Commercial Transportation
Departments should notify parents/guardians in advance if minors will be driven someplace. Parents/guardians should provide advance written permission to transport their minor via van or bus.
For minors age twelve or under, adults should be seated throughout the bus for easier supervision, with at least one adult in the middle of the bus and one in the far rear. Adults should sit in an aisle seat so they can get up to supervise minors as necessary.
Minors should be seated by grade or age group and disruptive minors should be seated next to an adult. Adults supervising an activity involving minors should take a head count or roll call before loading and after unloading a van, bus, or other form of commercial transportation, and should not proceed until all minors are accounted for unless safety considerations dictate otherwise.
Departments should notify parents/guardians in advance if minors will be taken someplace via public transportation. Parents/guardians should provide advance written permission to transport their minor via public transportation.
Minors under age twelve should be restricted to one area of the bus or train for easier supervision. Adults should stand or sit on the periphery of the area to which minors on public transportation are restricted. They should take a head count or roll call before boarding public transportation and upon leaving public transportation, and should not proceed until all minors are accounted for unless safety considerations dictate otherwise.
Non-Program Contact with Minors
Employees and volunteers who are part of a campus activity involving minors should not meet in person outside the activity with any individual minor unless the employee’s or volunteer’s adult supervisor has been made aware of the meeting and approved it in advance and only then if the employee or volunteer follows the rule of three, i.e. at least one other adult or minor should also be present.
Employees and volunteers supervising a campus activity involving minors may meet groups of program participants outside the activity provided:
- The employees or volunteers have written permission from the parents/guardians of each minor participating in the outside activity
- The outside activity is held in a public place such as a restaurant, museum, or stadium.
Telephonic and Electronic Communication
Employees and volunteers may communicate through electronic media to groups of program participants. However, unless they copy or otherwise include another adult connected to the activity (preferably their supervisor), employees and volunteers participating in a campus activity involving minors should not:
- Send text messages to or respond to text messages from an individual minor involved in the program
- Send emails to or respond to emails from an individual minor involved in the program
- Communicate via the personal page of an individual minor on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter
- Call an individual minor involved in the program on the telephone
Exceptions should be allowed for employees communicating to individual middle school or high school age minors for business purposes only, provided those employees:
- For emails, use only their ucsb.edu email address
- For texts and phone calls, use University-owned devices to the greatest extent possible
- Are willing to share records of their communications with minors sent or received via personal devices
Adults participating in a campus activity involving minors may give a token gift (under $25 value) to all minors involved in the activity. However, no adult participating in a campus activity involving minors should be allowed to give an individual minor in the program a gift (regardless of value) without prior approval from both the parent or legal guardian of the minor and the program supervisor.
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