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Guide to Working with Minors

If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect

In case of any emergency, dial 911 immediately.

In addition, you must:

1. Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect: 800-792-5200

2. Call the Smith College Department of Campus Safety: 413-585-2490

Read more on reporting child abuse

Five College Child Safety Certification

Get certified to work with children on the Smith College campus using the Five College Child Safety Certification website.

Good Practices

Good practices in minor/ adult interaction means that employees and volunteers should:

Avoid alone time with a minor as much as possible, and especially avoid being in a bathroom alone with a child. Exceptions to this are applicable when the duties of the employee or volunteer may require alone time with a minor. However, it is advised that during these times the employee should choose the most public place available.

Maintain a safe and appropriate distance from participants. This includes a firm ‘no-laps’ policy for children over the age of four (4). 

Choose appropriate language and messages when working with minors and vulnerable adults. Be careful of using sarcasm and limit vulgar language around minors to only that required by script (if applicable).

Only touch participants when it is necessary in relation to the particular activity. Employees should use best judgment when working with minors and try to keep physical contact appropriate. Please contact a designated person, as identified above, if you require guidance. 

Seek agreement from participants prior to any physical contact. For theater performance related activity this contact agreement should be determined at the beginning of rehearsals and only readdressed if significant change is being asked of the participant. Make sure that disabled participants are informed of and comfortable with any necessary physical contact. This is of particular importance and should also be addressed with the minor’s parent or guardian.

Never allow sexual relationships to develop between teachers/volunteers/artists/facilitators and minors or vulnerable adults

Immediately report any accidents, injuries, or inappropriate interactions to a Designated Person or your supervisor. You will be required to document and sign. Incident report forms are available on the Smith College web site [link], or from campus safety. 


When you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should immediately telephone the MA DCF Area Office serving the child's residence and ask for the Protective Screening Unit. Offices are staffed between 9 am and 5 pm weekdays.

140 High St., 5th Floor
Springfield, MA 01105
(413) 452-3350
Fax (413) 781-4482

To make a report at any other time, including after 5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, call the Child-At-Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200.

Do not fret over whether it’s actually abuse or neglect, the hotline exists so that professionals may make that decision. After the report, complete a statement and provide a sealed copy to Human Resources. 

Additional Guidelines 

  1. Treat all children regardless of race, religion, or culture with respect and consideration.
  2. Use positive techniques of guidance, including positive reinforcement and encouragement rather than competition, comparison or criticism.
  3. Never abuse children including physical abuse (strike, spank, shake or slap), verbal abuse (humiliate, degrade, threaten), sexual abuse (including inappropriate touching and exposure), or mental abuse.
  4. Set and monitor appropriate boundaries and relationships when working with children, based on openness, honesty and respect for the child’s personal space.
  5. Abstain from using humiliating discipline techniques, and from being drawn into inappropriate attention-seeking behavior. Do not make suggestive or derogatory remarks in front of children or young people.
  6. Do not use profanity in the presence of children or parents unless it is scripted dialogue in a theater production.
  7. Portray a positive role model for youth by maintaining an attitude of respect, patience, courtesy, and maturity.
  8. Avoid being alone with a child except to the extent that it is a requirement of the job, in which case the requirement will be noted by the Program, Activity, or Production supervisor at the outset of the Program, Activity, or Production. 
  9. Transport children in accordance with College policy. Never transport a child in a vehicle without prior written consent from a parent/guardian.
  10. Do not distribute or administer medication of any kind unless specifically authorized. Parents will be informed of this rule on child participation permission forms. 
  11. Ensure adequate supervision of minors while they are participating in college programs or activities, whether on or off campus. 
  12. Ensure all participants in a college program or activity (or a program or activity taking place on college property) understand what facilities and equipment they are permitted to use.