Policy on Safety and Well Being of Minors
Established: April 13, 2015 by the President and Cabinet
Revised: February 14, 2022
Office/Administrator Responsible: Finance and Administration; Vice President of Finance and Administration
Important: To report suspected child abuse and neglect in MA, call 1-800-792-5200. This is a 24-hour number. Read more about this help line.
Smith College (Smith) is committed to safeguarding all children, young people, and vulnerable adults involved in our programs and on our campus. The following policy provides direction to employees, students and volunteers about expected codes of behavior and is intended to ensure that child protection concerns are be appropriately addressed.
This policy applies to: (1) any Program, activity, or service involving Minors that occurs on College property, including the Macleish Field Station; and (2) any College Sponsored Program, activity, or service involving Minors, wherever it occurs.
The requirements set forth in this policy do not apply to:
- events, services, or activities open to the general public;
- overnight admission events, including those associated with athletics; or
- Smith Center for Early Childhood Education or Campus School for Smith College as they are required to comply with state laws, and regulations.
This policy creates specific standards to register all programs involving Minors, to properly screen and train all authorized program staff, and to outline specific policies and protocols. This policy also formalizes expectations and reporting mechanisms that are to be followed when instances of abuse and/or policy violations are suspected.
For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:
Authorized Adults who interact with, and have access to, Minors are classified in these policies as having High or Low Contact:
- is involved with the care, supervision, guidance, or control of Minors;
- works with or around Minors on a Program that meets regularly or involves multiple interactions;
- is expected to have one on one contact with a Minor;
- is a consistent and regular volunteer for Programs involving Minors.
- works with or around Minors for a one-time Program (but not Programs that meet regularly or involve multiple interactions);
- is always supervised by another adult when interacting with Minors; or
- is not responsible for supervising Minors.
If a Program Manager is unsure of the access level of an Authorized Adult, then the Program Manager shall assume the individual will have High Contact.
A person 18 years of age or older who supervises, teaches, counsels, volunteers or otherwise works with Minors participating in a Program. The term Authorized Adult does not include a person whose only role is to make a presentation to a group of Minors who are under the supervision of another adult at the time of the presentation.
The endangerment of a Minor’s physical or mental health due to injury by act or omission, including acts of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and economic exploitation. For more detailed information regarding the definitions of “abuse,” “neglect,” “exploitation,” “abandonment,” and related terms under Massachusetts law, please refer to the definitions of abuse and neglect, utilized by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and associated state-mandated reporting requirements.
D. College Sponsored Program (“Program”)
Any activity, event, recital, lesson, class, camp, or other interaction intended for Minors, including, but not limited to Programs paid for, organized by, or operated in whole or in part by the College, on or off campus.
A person under the age of 18 who are not enrolled as students at Smith College. Minor does not included individuals who accept admission to Smith College and submit a tuition deposit.
F. Program Manager
A College employee who has been identified as a primary leader within a College Sponsored Program. Each Program is required to identify a Program Manager.
Activity Approval Process
Each Program Manager must register the Program and receive approval by completing the procedures outlined by the College.
B. Screening and Selection
All Programs must adhere to screening and selection criteria required by the College. The College may conduct a background screening on any Authorized Adult at any time after employment or volunteer services has begun.
All Authorized Adults with any access to Minors are required to complete the following every three (3) years:
- A multi-state criminal background check; and
- A national sex offender registry check (SORI).
- Additionally, all students may be screened by the College’s Title IX office along with Student Affairs for pending or prior conduct violations.
For individuals with High Contact with Minors, additional screening by Program Managers could include:
- conducting face-to-face interviews using behaviorally-based standardized questions designed to assess for potential risk to abuse; and
- contacting a minimum of three references, at least one of which is personal, using behaviorally-based questions that assess abuse risk.
Once every three years, all Authorized Adults must complete a policy and child abuse prevention training. Additional training modules may be assigned as needed.
Under this Policy, no Program Manager, Authorized Adult, volunteer or any other Smith College employee, student or volunteer shall engage in any of the following behavior with a Minor:
- Have one-on-one contact with Minors. There must be at least: two (2) adults and one Minor or two (2) Minors and one adult present (The Rule of Three). The only exceptions to this rule are as follows:
- There is a familial or legal guardian relationship between the adult and the Minor.
- There are prospective students participating in pre-enrollment overnight visitation through Admissions or Athletics with a Smith College student host who is an Authorized Adult.
- There are prospective students participating in an admission program or event with an Authorized Adult, including interviews and information sessions conducted online.
- In-person admissions, recruiting, instructional and research settings where one-on-one interaction must occur, or may occur unexpectedly. In such settings, free access by other Authorized Adults to and from any space must be maintained at all times. Examples of methods to achieve free access include: using no window or door coverings that would restrict or eliminate visibility into the room and ensuring doors that are used to enter and exit the space are unlocked and accessible.
- Emergency Exception: The prohibition of one-on-one contact identified in this Policy may be temporarily suspended if an emergency situation warrants it (e.g., one adult accompanies a Minor to the emergency room, summons law enforcement, or searches for a missing Minor).
- Engage in Discrimination or Harassment. The College does not tolerate any discrimination or harassment involving Minors participating in Programs, services or activities, on the basis of a Minor’s age (except as permitted by legitimate Program requirements), color, creed, disability, gender identity, national/ethnic origin, race, religion, sex (except as permitted by legitimate Program requirements), or sexual orientation.
- (3)Use cell phones, cameras, imaging, or digital devices in an inappropriate way. Use of a device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in locker rooms, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected by participants is strictly prohibited.
- Meet with Minors outside of established times for Program activities including but not limited to visiting a youth at their home, hosting a youth in an Authorized Adult’s home, transporting the youth in a personal vehicle, etc.
- Touch Minors in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate.
- Engage in abusive conduct of any kind toward a Minor, including but not limited to verbal abuse, striking, hitting, punching, poking, spanking, tickling, kissing, full-frontal hugs, lap sitting, wrestling, piggyback rides, touching of bottom, chest or genital areas, massaging, masturbating, and restraining.
- Engage in physical contact that is unwanted by the Minor.
- Shower, bathe, or undress with or in the presence of Minors.
- Share a bed or sleeping bag with a Minor.
- Use, possess, and/or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, provide any of the same to any Minor.
- Be alone in a vehicle with a Minor at any time, unless in the event of an emergency, as indicated above.
- Have direct electronic contact with Minors without another person included in the communication with the exception of current students participating in recruitment activities or an Authorized Adult conducting official college business. This includes but is not limited to telephone, social media, text, in-game chat and email.
- Seek out Minor Program participants or accept invitations to connect on social media or gaming platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, X-box, Twitter, etc.
- Make sexual materials in any form available to Minors participating in Programs or activities or assist them in any way in gaining access to such materials.
- Leave a Minor in the care of a person who is not an Authorized Adult.
Expectation to Report Suspected Violations
The College does not condone Child Abuse, and will take prompt action upon receiving any report of suspected Child Abuse. The College encourages all community members to report suspected violations of this policy, inappropriate or suspicious behaviors that may not rise to the level of abuse, Minor-to-Minor sexualized behaviors and abuse or behaviors that could be perceived as sexualized or abusive, and suspected child abuse and neglect.
All Authorized Adults and employees are obligated to report suspected violations of this policy, inappropriate or suspicious behaviors that may not rise to the level of abuse, Minor-to-Minor sexualized behaviors and abuse, and suspected child abuse and neglect. Notifications to the College should be made through EthicsPoint or directly to Smith College Campus Safety Department. The College will review and conduct an assessment of all reports.
The internal reporting obligations under this policy exist in addition to any reporting obligation mandated by state law. For greater clarity: if an individual has a reporting obligation under both this policy and applicable law, that individual must make both reports. Failure of an employee to make an internal or external report under this policy may result in criminal and/or disciplinary actions.
Assessment, Investigation, and Resolution
The College will address all reports of suspected Child Abuse. In all instances, the College will—at a minimum—conduct an initial assessment of the report. The initial assessment will include a determination of any immediate, emergency, and / or interim steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of harm to individuals or to the campus community pending final resolution of the matter. This could include relieving an individual from all responsibilities with minors, pending conclusion of the College’s investigation. The safety and well-being of the affected Minor(s) will be given priority when determining any such interim steps.
If a report contains allegations that would constitute Child Abuse, the College will refer the matter to law enforcement.
If a report contains violations of the Policy, the College will undertake an investigation into the matter. The investigation will follow applicable procedures, if any, within the Student Code of Conduct, Faculty Handbook, and Staff Handbook, if applicable. Unless appropriate College personnel are specifically instructed otherwise by law enforcement, the College will conduct its assessment and review regardless of whether a criminal investigation is also pending. In the event that the College is directed by law enforcement not to pursue an internal investigation, the College will continue to fully cooperate with the law enforcement investigation.
Violations and Sanctions
Violations of College policies by students, faculty, and staff are adjudicated according to the procedures outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, the Faculty Handbook, and the Staff Handbook, respectively, with disciplinary consequences imposed by the adjudicating authority up to and including dismissal from the College or termination of employment. Conduct that violates local, state, federal, or otherwise applicable laws, statutes, regulations, codes, or ordinances, domestically or internationally, may be punishable under those laws.
Statement of Non-Retaliation
Harassment and retaliation (including, but not limited to adverse employment consequences) of or against any person who, in good faith, reports a suspected violation of law or College policy is prohibited. Any person who retaliates against someone who has reported a suspected violation in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. Any employee who believes that they have been retaliated against after making a good faith report is encouraged to report the alleged retaliation.