June 22, 2012

Protecting Minors

The university is committed to promoting the safety and wellbeing of students and others who are entrusted to our care or visit our campuses, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, including patients, volunteer subjects of research, and the children in our daycare and community outreach programs. The purpose of this policy is to describe requirements placed on administrators, faculty, staff, students, volunteers and others working with minors—to promote their protection, to fulfill our obligations as mandated by law, and to provide the best possible experience for any child visiting our campuses or in university-related programs.

The behavior of all faculty, staff and students is expected to align, at all times, with the university’s Code of Ethics. For more specific guidelines related to working with minors, see “Guidelines for Those Working with or around Children” (Appendix A), which will provide assistance in determining behavior that is and is not appropriate in situations involving minors.

Definitions

Minor—A minor is anyone under 18 years of age.

Child abuse—Abuse of a minor includes serious endangerment of a child’s physical or mental health due to injury by act or omission, including acts of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse includes contacts or interactions between a child and another person when the child is being used as an object of sexual gratification. A child is abused regardless of whether this activity involves explicit force, whether it involves physical contact, whether it is initiated by the child, and whether there is discernible harmful outcome. For more information on abuse and neglect, see Appendix A, “Guidelines for Those Working with or around Children.”

Minors Not Participating in a University-related Program

As a research university, USC’s campuses and facilities are generally not an appropriate environment for minors unless they are matriculated students or enrolled in a program specifically designed for children and appropriately supervised by adults with the proper training and credentials. In some locations, such as laboratories, allowing unauthorized or untrained personnel may also violate federal and state law. In light of this environment:

  1. No child may be left alone on campus at any time for any reason; DPS will be notified if a child is left unattended on campus.
  2. Resident students may not “babysit” minors in their rooms, including relatives. Minors may not accompany students to class.
  3. If a minor accompanies a parent or guardian to work, the parent or guardian must supervise the child at all times while on university property. Children may be restricted from access to certain areas due to safety concerns, and in no case should the presence of a child be allowed to disrupt other faculty, staff or students.
  4. Students, faculty or staff who have child care emergencies are advised to stay home or make alternative arrangements rather than trying to bring children to campus; faculty and supervisors should exercise leniency in excusing absences resulting from such emergencies. USC is not in a position to provide emergency child care, and no university space is to be used as an alternative to child care, including but not limited to libraries, classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, lounges, restaurants or any other public space. Under no circumstances are sick or infectious children to be brought onto campus, except for treatment at medical care facilities.

Departments and schools may impose additional limits on when and where minors may be present.

Minors Participating in a University-related Program

We welcome minors on campus for a variety of specific reasons: as prospective students; as enrollees in a university-sponsored program or camp; as patients or interns; and other programs appropriate for minors (some of which may meet off-campus but still be sponsored by USC).

The rules in the previous section (e.g., non-matriculated minors may not be left alone on campus nor may they accompany students to classes; resident students may not babysit minors) all apply to minors participating in university-related programs, as well.

Screening and Training Requirements

All faculty, staff, students, volunteers and third party contractors who work in a program specifically designed for minors or who direct or supervise such a program are required to: successfully complete a criminal background screening prior to beginning any assignment involving minors; participate in targeted training designed to teach appropriate codes of conduct with minors, awareness of signs of possible abuse, molestation or neglect, and how to report such suspicions.

All third party contractors engaged by the university to provide programs specifically designed for minors will also be required to meet recognized standards of appropriate conduct and oversight (e.g., properly train staff, maintain proper staffing ratios, report incidents, and provide written verification that appropriate background checks are conducted).

Failure to successfully meet any of these requirements will preclude faculty, staff, students, volunteers or contractors from working with minors.

All USC faculty and staff, whether or not they regularly work with minors, are required to complete training specifically targeted to issues involving child abuse. All new employees receive this training within 60 days of hire; continuing employees receive refresher training every two years.

See USC’s Criminal Background Screening policy for additional screening information.

Reporting Requirements

All USC employees, students, contractors and volunteers have a personal responsibility to report any instances of known or suspected abuse, molestation or neglect relating to children. Two reports must be made:

First report

USC’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) must be immediately notified. From all locations, call (213) 740-4321 (emergencies; immediate threat of danger) or (213) 740-6000.

Second report

The second report must be placed to the Department of Children and Family Services Child Protection Hotline at (800) 540-4000, or to the LAPD (or your local law enforcement agency if outside the city of Los Angeles).

Failure by any member of the university community to make these reports as soon as possible will result in discipline up to and including termination and/or dismissal.

Those members of the university community covered by California’s Mandated Reporter laws should also review the university’s Mandated Reporters policy, which also covers obligations related to other issues (such as elder abuse and domestic violence).

Registry Requirements

All university programs in which staff, faculty, volunteers or students work directly with non-matriculated minors must register the name of the program, including contact information, with the Office of Equity and Diversity. Programs must be able to identify all staff, faculty, volunteers, students and contractors who work directly with minors; that list must be maintained by one or more program administrators within each program, and be available for review by the Office of Equity and Diversity during periodic audits.

Appendix A

Guidelines for Those Working with or around Children

Related Policy and Information

Responsible Office

Office of Equity and Diversity

equity.usc.edu
oed@usc.edu
(213) 740-5086

Issued by

Elizabeth Garrett, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California