CONDUCT REQUIREMENTS FOR WORKING WITH MINORS
The guidelines below comply with the Policy on the Safety of Children in University Programs, and the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. Members of the University community (faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers) associated with programs or activities involving minors must adhere to the following guidelines in order to maintain a safe and positive experience for program participants, encourage parental confidence, and avoid mistaken allegations.
The boundary between appropriate and inappropriate interactions between adults and minor program participants can be readily recognized but difficult to articulate. Boundaries can be physical, behavioral, emotional, or even locational (or situational), and a healthy sense of boundaries is what allows youth to trust others and remain safe. Boundaries are shaped around the fundamental differences between adults and children – differences with regard to authority, judgment, emotional maturity, and physical, cognitive and psychosocial development. In view of these differences and taking into account the inherent vulnerability of children and the duty of care borne by adults, the written and unwritten rules that govern interactions between adults and children in youth serving programs must take into account these differences and must be established and maintained in a way that ensures the safety and welfare of every child participant.
- Show an unwavering commitment to ensuring that the welfare of participating minors is a paramount and shared responsibility.
- Create an open, welcoming educational environment.
- Work and engage with minors in an open and transparent manner.
- Support participants’ personal and educational development to make them feel valued and provide them with safe and caring connections to the program.
- Maintain the highest standard of personal behavior at all times when interacting with minors.
- Refrain from being alone with a child at any time in connection with the program. Try to have another adult present when you are working with minors in an unsupervised setting.
- Whenever possible meet in open, well illuminated spaces or rooms with a window observable by other adults.
- Be aware of how your actions and intentions might be perceived and could be misinterpreted.
- Consult with other adult supervisors or colleagues when you feel uncertain about a situation.
- Abide by all guidelines stated within the student, faculty and other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, or staff handbook.
- Use an uchicago.edu email address when acting on behalf of the University during email exchanges with a minor.
- Utilize the University Zoom or Microsoft Teams applications for all virtual interactions.
- Block your personal information that may be available on the electronic device that you are using to communicate with the minor.
- Comply with Academic Year recording policy.
- Relate to minors as if they are peers, conduct private correspondence or take on the role of a “confidant.” Do not ask a minor to keep a secret.
- Engage in abusive conduct of any kind toward or in presence of any child.
- Administer force upon a child with or without an implement or tool for the purpose of discipline (i.e., corporal punishment).
- Touch a child or have physical contact in an inappropriate or illegal manner.
- Engage in the use or possession of alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs in the presence or vicinity of children.
- Possess, produce, access or make available to children any sexually explicit images, material, or media.
- Use inappropriate language, tell risqué jokes, or make sexually suggestive comments around children, even if the children themselves do so.
- Engage in or communicate with minors through, text messages, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or other forms of social media unless such communication is for the business purpose of University (i.e. Admissions, scheduling, recruitment).
- Take or utilize a photograph of any child without the written express consent of the child’s parent/guardian. A waiver of this guideline can be obtained by contacting Risk Management.
- Date or become romantically or sexually involved with a child. Do not show pornography to a child or involve a child in pornographic activities.
- Transport a child alone in any vehicle. Do not use personal vehicles if possible.
- Invite a child to your home.
Reports of Abuse or Neglect of Minors:
All University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff employees, student employees, student volunteers, and other volunteers are mandated reporters under Illinois law and thus must comply with the University’s mandated reporter policy, a summary of which is included in this packet. University students are not, in their capacity only as students, mandated reporters under Illinois law. However, University students bear the following responsibility if they are associated or volunteering with (i) a University-sponsored program or activity involving minors, or (ii) a non-University sponsored program or activity on campus involving minors:
If you have a reasonable basis to believe that a minor you know in your professional capacity has been abused or neglected, you MUST: (a) immediately inform the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (IDCFS) of the circumstances by reporting to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (IDCFS) Child Abuse Online Reporting System here (https://childabuse.illinois.gov/ )* ; and (b) immediately inform your supervisor or director of the program or activity of the report to IDCFS and the underlying circumstances.
*If the abuse or neglect requires immediate action, you must call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1.800.25.ABUSE (800-252-2873).
In case of an emergency, immediately call the University of Chicago Police Department at 773.702.8181 or the Chicago Police Department at 911.
If you have questions about your obligations or what you should do in a situation that makes you uncomfortable or uncertain about what you need to do, contact Risk Management at email@example.com.