Guidelines for Youth Safety and Working with Minors

Table of Contents

Expectations when Working with Minors

How to Protect Yourself and the Youth under Your Supervision

Recommended Ratios for Program Staff

Know the Requirements for Reporting Child Abuse

Expectations when Working with Minors

Purdue University expects adults to be positive role models for minors. As a program staff member or volunteer, you are the eyes and ears of the program or activity. You can protect children by behaving appropriately, monitoring the behavior of other program staff members and program participants, and adhering to the following expectations.

  • Respect, adhere to, and enforce the policies and rules of the University, additional guidance established by the program sponsor or director, and all laws related to child abuse and substance abuse.
  • Accept supervision and support from the program director and other designated management individuals.
  • Observe the recommended ratios for program staff (see details below).
  • Conduct yourself in a courteous and respectful manner, exhibit good sportsmanship, and demonstrate reasonable conflict management skills.
  • Recognize that verbal or physical abuse, failure to comply with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination policies and laws, or committing criminal acts are not acceptable.
  • Under no circumstances allow, consume, or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at program events or activities.
  • Do not possess of or use of any type of weapon or explosive device.
  • Operate machinery, vehicles, and other equipment in a safe and responsible manner.
  • Treat animals in a humane manner and teach program participants appropriate animal care and management.
  • Use technology and social media in an appropriate manner.
  • Report any suspected instances of child abuse and/or neglect to local authorities (see details below).
  • Most sexual abuse incidents happen in situations with one adult and one child. If you eliminate one-adult and one-child situations, you reduce the risk of abuse.
  • If one-on-one interaction is necessary, meet in open, well illuminated spaces or rooms with windows observable by other adults from the program. Exceptions to this should only occur when the one-on-one interaction is expressly authorized by the program director, dean, or department chairperson or is for the purpose of providing health care services by a health care professional.
  • Watch for older children or adults who take younger children away from areas where the program is taking place.
  • Watch for older children or adults who have younger favorites with whom they want to spend time exclusively.
  • Program directors should consider ensuring that adults supervise older children serving younger children.
  • Program directors, other trusted adults, or parents should be able to observe a program activity at any time.
  • When transporting minors as part of a program, more than one adult from the program should be present in the vehicle.
  • Physical contact with a minor should only occur in the open and in response to the minor's needs, for a purpose that is consistent with the program's mission and culture, and/or for a clear educational, developmental, or health related purpose, such as the treatment of an injury.
  • Many children are taught that it is not okay to touch any part that covers where the child wears a bathing suit. These are the private areas.
  • If you must touch a child, ask if it is okay to touch first.
  • Children have the permission and power to say "No" to any unwanted or uncomfortable touch. Any resistance from the minor should be respected.
  • Do not engage or allow minors to engage you in romantic or sexual conversations or related matters, unless required in the role of resident advisors, counselors, or health care providers.
  • Watch for other adults who make children uncomfortable by ignoring their personal space limits.
  • Beware of adults who want to touch, tickle, or wrestle with a child, especially when the child does not want physical contact or attention.
  • All incidents of discipline must be documented and disclosed to the program director and the minor's parent or guardian.
  • Do not touch minors in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate.
  • Do not engage in any abusive conduct of any kind toward, or in the presence of, a minor, including but not limited to verbal abuse, striking, hitting, punching, poking, spanking, or restraining.
  • To meet with a minor outside of established times for program activities, get written parental authorization. This meeting must include more than one adult from the program.
  • Avoid using personal vehicles to transport program participants who are minors, if possible.
  • Do not engage or communicate with minors through email, text messages, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or other forms of social media at any time, except and unless there is an educational or programmatic purpose and the content of the communication is consistent with the mission of the program and the University.

How to Protect Yourself and the Youth under Your Supervision

Avoid being alone with a single minor.

  • Most sexual abuse incidents happen in situations with one adult and one child. If you eliminate one-adult and one-child situations, you reduce the risk of abuse.
  • If one-on-one interaction is necessary, meet in open, well illuminated spaces or rooms with windows observable by other adults from the program. Exceptions to this should only occur when the one-on-one interaction is expressly authorized by the program director, dean, or department chairperson or is for the purpose of providing health care services by a health care professional.
  • Watch for older children or adults who take younger children away from areas where the program is taking place.
  • Watch for older children or adults who have younger favorites with whom they want to spend time exclusively.
  • Program directors should consider ensuring that adults supervise older children serving younger children.
  • Program directors, other trusted adults, or parents should be able to observe a program activity at any time.
  • When transporting minors as part of a program, more than one adult from the program should be present in the vehicle.

Do not engage in or solicit physical contact with a minor.

  • Physical contact with a minor should only occur in the open and in response to the minor's needs, for a purpose that is consistent with the program's mission and culture, and/or for a clear educational, developmental, or health related purpose, such as the treatment of an injury.
  • Many children are taught that it is not okay to touch any part that covers where the child wears a bathing suit. These are the private areas.
  • If you must touch a child, ask if it is okay to touch first.
  • Children have the permission and power to say "No" to any unwanted or uncomfortable touch. Any resistance from the minor should be respected.
  • Do not engage or allow minors to engage you in romantic or sexual conversations or related matters, unless required in the role of resident advisors, counselors, or health care providers.
  • Watch for other adults who make children uncomfortable by ignoring their personal space limits.
  • Beware of adults who want to touch, tickle, or wrestle with a child, especially when the child does not want physical contact or attention.

Use appropriate discipline techniques.

  • All incidents of discipline must be documented and disclosed to the program director and the minor's parent or guardian.
  • Do not touch minors in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate.
  • Do not engage in any abusive conduct of any kind toward, or in the presence of, a minor, including but not limited to verbal abuse, striking, hitting, punching, poking, spanking, or restraining.

Do not meet with minors outside established times for program activities or invite individual minors to your home.

  • To meet with a minor outside of established times for program activities, get written parental authorization. This meeting must include more than one adult from the program.
  • Avoid using personal vehicles to transport program participants who are minors, if possible.
  • Do not engage or communicate with minors through email, text messages, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or other forms of social media at any time, except and unless there is an educational or programmatic purpose and the content of the communication is consistent with the mission of the program and the University.

Recommended Ratios for Program Staff

The below table and information provides the staff supervision ratios as recommended by the American Camp Association.

Recommended Staff Supervision Ratios

Participant Age

Number of Staff

Day-Only Participants

Overnight Participants

</= 5 years

1

6

5

6-8 years

1

8

6

9-14 years

1

10

8

15-18 years

1

12

10

At least 80% of the program staff should be 18 years of age or older. If the program is primarily for minors with special needs, 100% of the staff should be adults.

All of the program staff should be at least 16 years of age and at least two years older than the minors with whom they will be working.

When considering the above ratios, program staff should not include individuals whose primary responsibility is administrative, food service, or maintenance.

Know the Requirements for Reporting Child Abuse

Anyone age 18 or older is required by Indiana law to report any suspected or witnessed abuse or neglect of a minor.

Reports must be made to the local police or child protective services and may be made anonymously. Call 911 in an emergency.

Local Numbers

Department

Number

Purdue University Police

765-494-8221

Lafayette Police

765-807-1200

West Lafayette Police

765-775-5200

Child Protective Services

800-800-5556

Suspected or witnessed child abuse that occurs in conjunction with a Purdue University program or activity should also be reported to the program or activity director. Anonymous reports can be made to the University’s Whistleblower Hotline website or by calling 866-818-2620. The person making the report must also report the information to the police or child protective services in order to fulfill their obligation under Indiana law.

Contact Information
Ernest C. Young Hall, 10th Floor
155 S. Grant Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114
Phone: 765-494-5830
Fax: 765-494-1295
E-mail: vpec@purdue.edu 

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