Established: April 13, 2015 by the President and Cabinet
Revised: February 5, 2024
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 minors 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 appropriately addressed.
With the exception of programs, activities, or services excluded specifically below, this policy applies to: (1) any Program that is organized/offered, in whole or part, by or on behalf of the college, college academic or administrative units, employees and volunteers operating as representatives of the college, and student clubs/organizations and (2) any college Sponsored Program, activity, or service involving Minors, wherever it occurs where the Minors will participate without a parent or guardian present.
The requirements set forth in this policy do not apply to:
- Events, services, or activities open to the general public where parents or guardians are expected to attend and appropriately supervise the Minor(s) in their care;
- Courses in which Minors are enrolled;
- Overnight admission events, including those associated with athletics;
- Programs, activities or services in which Smith faculty, staff, students or volunteers engage with minors as part of on or off campus activities that are not organized, sponsored by or managed by the college, e.g., internships, summer employment or non-Smith volunteer experience;
- Events or activities such as field trips to the campus where personnel from the sponsoring agency or education program are required to accompany minors;
- Smith College Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) and Campus School of Smith College (as they are required to comply with specific state laws and regulations);
- Other programs with screening and training requirements equal to or greater than the requirements of this policy with written approval from the Office of Human Resources.
This policy creates specific standards to register all programs involving Minors, to properly screen and train all Program Representatives, 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:
A. Child Abuse
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 the purposes of this policy, Smith College has adopted 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.
B. College Sponsored Program (“Program”)
Any organized event, activity, or other interaction that meets the following criteria and is not otherwise excluded from the scope of this policy, regardless of whether it takes place on or off campus, in-person or remotely (in whole or in part):
- The Program includes participants who are Minors where the Minors will participate without a parent or guardian
- The Program is organized/offered, in whole or part, by or on behalf of the college, college academic or administrative units, employees and volunteers operating as representatives of the college, or student clubs/organizations
A person under the age of 18 who is not enrolled as a student at Smith College but is participating in a program, activity, or services covered by this policy. Minor does not include individuals who accept admission to Smith College and submit a tuition deposit. In the event of a conflict with this definition and any other definition of Minor in other Smith College policies, this definition supersedes any other definition.
D. Program Manager
A College employee who has been identified as a primary leader, or co-leader, within a College Sponsored Program. Each Program is required to identify at least one Program Manager, and Program Managers are required to undergo the screening and selection criteria outlined in the Activity Approval Process section, item (B).
E. Program Representative
A person (including staff, faculty, students, or non-Smith affiliated volunteers) who supervises, teaches, counsels, volunteers, interacts directly with or otherwise works with Minors participating in a Program, including Program Managers who have satisfactorily completed the required background check and minor safety training requirements as outlined in this policy in the Screening and Selection Requirements for Program Representatives section. The term Program Representatives 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.
For the purposes of this policy a volunteer is anyone who, without compensation or expectation of compensation, performs a service or task at the direction of a Program Manager.
The college accepts the service of Volunteers with the understanding that such volunteer service is at the sole discretion of the college. Volunteers agree that the college may, at any time, and for any reason or no specified reason, decide to terminate the volunteer’s relationship with the college. The Volunteer may also terminate their service to the college at any time via a written notice.
Activity Approval Process
Each Program Manager must register the Program and complete the screening and selection criteria outlined in item (B) prior to the start date of the Program. All Programs, events, and activities involving minors must be registered, regardless of whether or not individual staff members might have unsupervised access to a minor during the course of the activity.
Each Program Manager must:
- Ensure any person who supervises, teaches, counsels, volunteers or otherwise works with Minors participating in a Program has completed the screening and selection criteria outlined in item (B);
- Ensure a procedure is in place for notification of parents or legal guardians of all Minors participating in the Program in the event of an emergency;
- Provide all parents or legal guardians of participating Minors with contact information in order to reach participants while the Program is in session; and
- Report to Smith College Campus Safety any crimes or potential crimes reported to them, and to advise any Program Representatives that they supervise to report to them any crimes or potential crimes of which they become aware.
B. Screening and Selection Requirements for Program Representatives
All Programs must adhere to screening and selection criteria required by the college. The college may conduct a background screening on any Program Representatives at any time after employment or volunteer service has begun.
All Program Representatives are required to complete with satisfactory results the following screening and selection criteria prior to their participation in a Program and thereafter every four (4) years to maintain eligibility to participate in a Program:
- A multi-state criminal background check
- A national sex offender registry check (SORI).
- Employees and students will be screened by the college’s Title IX Coordinator or their designee for pending internal investigations or prior violations of College policy related to suitability to work with Minors
- Additionally, students will be screened by Student Affairs for pending investigations or prior conduct violations related to suitability to work with Minors
For the purposes of this policy, Smith employees and student workers employed by the CECE, the Campus School and Smith College Precollege Programs will be certified using the requirements for employment.
All Program Representatives are required to inform the college immediately if they are charged, cited, or otherwise involved as a defendant in any criminal proceeding so the college can determine if further background or criminal records checks and/or reconsideration of suitability to continue to work with Minors as a Program Representative are necessary.
Once every four (4) years, all Program Representatives must complete policy and child abuse prevention training. Additional training modules may be assigned as needed.
Under this Policy, a Program Manager, Program Representative, Volunteer or any Smith College employee or student shall not engage in any of the following behaviors 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 an admission program or event with a Program Representative, 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 Program Representatives 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’ participation in Programs, services or activities, as set forth in the College’s Equal Opportunity Policies.
- Use cell phones, cameras, imaging, or digital devices in a manner inconsistent with state or federal law or college policy or that is inconsistent with reasonable privacy expectations given the context of the environment. 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 Minor at their home, hosting a Minor in a Program Representative’s home, transporting the minor in a personal vehicle (except in the event of an emergency, as indicated above), etc.
- Touch Minors in a manner that a reasonable person would interpret as inappropriate. This includes, but is not limited to, behavior prohibited by the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.
- Engage in abusive or inappropriate 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/or 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 in the presence of a Minor, or 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 a Program Representative conducting official college business. All communications with Minors are to occur using means authorized by the College, e.g., a Smith College phone number and a smith.edu email address.
- Seek out Minor Program participants or accept invitations to connect on social media or gaming platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Xbox, 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 a Program Representative.
Obligation to Report Suspected Violations
The college does not condone Child Abuse and will take prompt action upon receiving any report of suspected Child Abuse in its sponsored programs. 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 Program Representatives 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’s 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. State law requires mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse potentially engaged in by parents and other caretakers, as well as suspected child abuse potentially engaged in by college staff or volunteers. 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
In addition to complying with state-mandated reporting obligations discussed above, the college will address all reports of suspected Child Abuse where there is a relationship between the college and the person who is suspected to have engaged in the Child Abuse (e.g., a college employee, student or volunteer). In all such instances, the college will conduct an initial assessment of the report, which 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. Emergency or interim measures, if appropriate, may include interim suspension of an individual’s status as an employee, student, or a volunteer or relieving an individual from all responsibilities with minors, pending the conclusion of the college’s investigation. If a report contains allegations that would constitute Child Abuse, the college will refer the matter to law enforcement.
If a report alleges violations of the Policy, the college will undertake an investigation into the matter. The investigation will follow applicable procedures, if any, within the Code of Student Conduct, Code of Faculty Governance, the Sexual Misconduct Policy, and the Employee Handbook. This assessment and review will occur regardless of whether a criminal investigation is pending. At the request of law enforcement, the college may make a reasonable delay of its investigation to avoid any conflict with pending criminal investigations.
Violations and Sanctions
Violations of college policies by students, faculty, and staff are adjudicated according to the procedures outlined in the Code of Student Conduct, the Code of Faculty Governance, the Staff Handbook, and the Sexual Misconduct Policy, 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.
Policy Review Cycle
This policy will be reviewed at least annually or as needed to reflect changes in laws, regulations or major changes in college operations.