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Best Practices for Interacting with Minors

The following are best practices for interacting with minors and creating a safe environment for minors in University programs:

Best Practices for Interacting with Minors In-Person

  • Avoid one-on-one contact as much as possible, as the situation allows, and observe the "Rule of Three" - try to have at least two adults or two children in all interactions with minors.
  • Minors who are not matriculated University students must be supervised at all times by an adult over 18 years old who is the supervisor or authorized person in charge of the program, activity, event or service while on campus or off campus.
  • Understand your responsibility to safeguard and protect minors.
  • Avoid any conduct which would lead a reasonable person to question your motivation and intentions.
  • Work with minors in an open, visible and transparent way.
  • Apply accepted professional standards when working with minors.
  • Prohibit anyone who is not associated with the program, activity, event or service involving minors from access to the minor participants.
  • Monitor potential risk areas in the space or facility where the program, activity, event or service will take place (such as, locker rooms, changing rooms, rooms without windows, areas of low visibility) and ensure visibility in areas where the program, activity, event or services take place - remove obstructions from doors and windows.
  • Keep unused rooms locked and secured.
  • If necessary at all, keep e-mail/social networking strictly professional.
  • Minors should never be transported in a personal vehicle by faculty, professional staff, volunteer or other person hired or retained by the University in connection with a program, activity, event or service relating to or involving minors.
  • Be aware of "red flags" and conduct that may be "grooming behavior" designed to break down the barriers of resistance by someone who is intent on harming a minor. You should avoid and be on the lookout for in others these red flag actions or situations when interacting with a minor, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Holding an older child in your lap.
    • Inviting youth to spend the night.
    • Wrestling/Horseplay
    • Massages
    • Tickling
    • Repeatedly bumping/brushing against a child.
    • Inappropriate hugging
    • Making sexually suggestive comments to a child.
    • Pennsylvania law (and Drexel policy) expressly prohibits the photographing, filming and videotaping of a sexual act involving a minor, the dissemination of child pornography materials, and the voluntary viewing or possession of child pornography.

Best Practices for Interacting with Minors in a Virtual Setting

  • Review general best practices as listed above and apply where appropriate.
  • Remember that the same expectations apply for reporting child abuse.
  • Utilize all security features available in the virtual platform to minimize entry of non-participants (waiting room, password, etc.). Seek assistance from DU IT if you need support or have any questions about these safeguards.
  • Be mindful of private chat features available in the virtual platform and disable feature if not absolutely necessary. If the feature must be used for the program, ensure that the parent or guardian is included in each chat or private message when communicating with the minor in this format.
  • Limit one-on-one contact in breakout sessions by following the "Rule of Three" as stated above. Set up any interactions with individual minors to include the minor's parent or guardian or having two authorized adults present for those interactions.
  • Be aware of potential for cyber bullying.
  • Keep virtual backgrounds (image or video in background) neutral and appropriate.
  • Ensure content is at appropriate level of understanding; know that attention spans can be limited with virtual programming.
  • Be mindful that minors may have other responsibilities at home; be patient with interruptions.
  • Be cognizant that minors are bringing program administrators into their personal worlds through other individuals in the space, pets, belongings, etc.; be aware of potential cultural differences and let minors set the tone for what they want to share.

Ratio for Adequate Supervision – Authorized Adults to Minors

Ensure adequate supervision is in place to protect the safety and security of minors involved in any program. Drexel Sponsors are strongly encouraged to use the following ratios of Authorized Adults to Minors as a guideline in staffing programs, excluding credit and non-credit Drexel University courses for matriculated Drexel students.

These ratios should reflect the gender distribution of the participants and meet the following:

  • Standards for resident (overnight) programs/activities/events are:
    • One Authorized Adult for every five Minors ages 4 and 5.
    • One Authorized Adult for every six Minors ages 6 to 8.
    • One Authorized Adult for every eight Minors ages 9 to 14.
    • One Authorized Adult for every 10 Minors ages 15 to 17.
  • Standards for day programs/activities/events are:
    • One Authorized Adult for every six Minors ages 4 and 5.
    • One Authorized Adult for every eight Minors ages 6 to 8.
    • One Authorized Adult for every 10 Minors ages 9 to 14.
    • One Authorized Adult for every 12 Minors ages 15 to 17.

Source: "Managing the Risk of Minors on Campus", Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (2012)

Rules and Standards of Conduct

Develop and disseminate rules and standards of conduct to participants in any program, activity, service or event associated with minors. These rules should address the following:

  • The possession or use of alcohol and other drugs, fireworks, candles, flammable substances, guns and other weapons is prohibited.
  • No fighting, violence, pranks, including sexual abuse or harassment, will be tolerated.
  • Hazing of any kind is prohibited. Bullying, including verbal, physical, and cyber bullying, are prohibited.
  • No theft of property regardless of owner will be tolerated.
  • No use of tobacco products will be tolerated. Smoking is prohibited in all university buildings.
  • Misuse or damage of University property is prohibited. Charges will be assessed against those participants who are responsible for damage or misuse of University property.
  • The inappropriate use of cameras, imaging and digital devices is prohibited including use of such devices in showers, restrooms or other areas where privacy is expected by participants.
  • Minors are not to go anywhere alone.
  • Inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
  • Inappropriate language will not be tolerated.

For Minors Working as Interns

  • Interns are to remain on the Drexel campus (specifically, you are not to go outside the area bounded by Powelton Street to the North, 38th Street to the West, Chestnut Street to the South, and 30th Street to the East) at all times unless accompanied by approved Drexel chaperones.
  • Drexel is an urban area, and interns are advised to exercise appropriate caution in the area: to be alert at all times and to know where they are going (see items above relating to boundaries and chaperones).
  • During scheduled internship hours (9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday) interns must keep their mentor informed of their whereabouts at all times.
  • Interns are strongly encouraged not to have a vehicle on campus during the summer internship/mentorship program.
  • Visitors or guests are not allowed during the summer internship or mentorship program unless previously authorized by the Internship Program Director.
  • Interns should carry identification with them at all times.
  • Interns must abide by all specific lab safety and health policies and protocols.
  • No eating or drinking is permitted in the laboratories.
  • Interns are required to conduct themselves in a manner conducive to a positive academic and learning environment. The program expects each participant to treat others with respect and courtesy.