Last Thursday, Georgetown students, staff and faculty received an email from President John J. DeGioia announcing the University’s new Protection of Minors policy. The goal of the policy is to “protect those under 18 years of age who participate in programs and activities associated with the University.”
Georgetown hosts a wide range of programs that bring minors to campus, from academic programs for high schoolers to summer camps. Implementation of the policy will begin with training sessions for any program directors who engage with minors on campus.
In a press conference call earlier today, Vice President for Public Affairs and Senior Advisor to the President Erik Smulson said that Department of Public Safety officers are already in the process of additional training sessions for protection of minors.
The policy includes requirements for criminals background checks, trainings, and how to report any suspected abuse. The guidelines outlined apply to any students, staff, faculty, volunteers, and non-university organizations that have programs on campus involving minors. Effective immediately, any program that works with minors must “register with the Office of Compliance and Ethics and begin training staff involved in their program.”
According to the press release, the policy will “establish guidelines to prevent the abuse or neglect of those under 18 years of age and for reporting and responding to incidents in which the safety of minors may be compromised.” Abuse or neglect of minors is defined by the policy as the “infliction of physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or negligent treatment or maltreatment of a person under age 18.”
The University created a “Culture of Care” working group last November in reaction to the trial of Penn State’s coach Jerry Sandusky who was convicted of 45 counts of child molestation during his time as assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University. Since his conviction, Penn State, along with other schools, have introduced policies to increase the protection of minors.
In April, the University put the summer guidelines into place. The working group surveyed the program and camp directors of over 45 different programs on campus involving minors and compiled the policy guidelines during the summer.
Smulson said that the University plans to increase awareness on the issue of child abuse through speakers and lecture events, but also “be vigilant that people are following [the new policy].”
He added that awareness is key to the success of the policy’s implementation. “Clearly the Culture of Care is really something that has to come from the most senior administrators and faculty….to across the spectrum,” he said. “It will be a constant conversation to make sure people are aware about the issue of child abuse and how the appropriate way to report them is.”
Recently, George Washington University adopted a policy that grants victims of sexual harassment confidentiality across the board.
When asked about the procedure for reporting abuse, Smulson said that university policy for child abuse grants confidentiality. “Anyone can report this in a confidential manner if that’s the way they chose…that’s something they do through the website or a telephone number, which is available to faculty, students and staff,” he said.
October 11, 2012To the Members of the Georgetown University CommunityDear Ladies and Gentlemen:Georgetown University is committed to the safety of all individuals in its community. The University has particular concern for those who are potentially vulnerable, including minor children, who require special attention and protection.As a reflection of these values, Georgetown University is adopting a Protection of Minors Policy to protect those under 18 years of age who participate in programs and activities associated with the University. The policy establishes guidelines to help prevent the abuse or neglect of those under 18 years of age and for reporting and responding to incidents in which the safety of minors may be compromised. A copy of the policy and other useful information can be found at the website: protectionofminors.georgetown.
Programs and activities that involve minors are integral to Georgetown’s mission and identity. From child-care services for employees to a broad range of academic, athletic, enrichment, and other programs during the summer and the academic year, the University is deeply engaged in providing opportunities for minors. We also allow certain outside organizations and groups to use our campus for programs that involve minors. At the core of all of these programs is a commitment to providing a safe environment and a positive experience for all participants.
The Protection of Minors Policy was formulated over the last year through broad consultation with members of our community who run these programs, legal counsel, peer institutions and with experts on these matters. The policy was also reviewed and shared with appropriate University governing and advisory bodies as it was developed. The policy establishes guidelines and requirements that apply broadly to University students, faculty, staff and volunteers, and also imposes requirements on non-University organizations that operate programs or activities involving minors on campus.
In addition to increasing awareness of minor abuse and neglect among all members of the University community and requiring reporting, the policy imposes additional requirements (training and background checks) on those who participate in programs or activities involving minors.
Beginning immediately, anyone who runs or supervises a program that involves minors must register with the Office of Compliance and Ethics and begin training staff involved in their program. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for registering your program and training your staff under the “For Directors and Supervisors” section of the policy website.
Please take a moment to review the policy at protectionofminors.georgetown.
edu. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to review this important information and for your dedication as we carry out Georgetown’s mission.
John J. DeGioia