Many people are surprised to learn that the University of Utah has over 150,000 interactions with young participants on campus in a typical year. Field trips, high school access programs, and summer camps are held in nearly every department at U. With so many underage participants on campus each year, it is important that the campus community understands the joys, but also the risks, of managing young people. programs.
This is where the Youth Protection and Program Support (YPPS) team can help. YYPS’ number one goal is to support programs so they can provide a safe environment for the young people they serve. YPPS will help programs comply with the safety of minors attending university programs or programs held on university premises Politics and provide advice on best practices in youth programming. They do this by providing resources, running trainings, and hosting events that create a sense of community among youth programs, including one coming in March (details below).
To find out more, we caught up with Marci Hutchinson, YPPS Coordinator, to answer a few questions:
What is the University’s policy on the safety of minors and who must follow it?
The Minor Safety Policy establishes minimum requirements for any academic entity offering programs for minors, as well as minimum requirements for adults who will work with young people in those programs.
The policy applies to any program or activity specifically designed for minors as participants, whether it takes place on or off campus. If you are unsure whether the policy applies to your program, we recommend that any staff, faculty, or department offering programs or activities for minors contact us to determine how the policy applies to them.
Why is the policy necessary?
We know that abuse can happen even in the most secure environments. In fact, we know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted before the age of 18. The impact of incidents of violent or sexual abuse on the victim, the organization and the community is so serious that it is important to do everything to try to prevent it. This is why the University of Utah has invested in a program and a policy for the protection of minors.
How do the police protect minors?
The policy requires all programs to register with YPPS and provide a risk management plan that outlines the steps they will take to mitigate possible risks in their programs. The policy also requires any adult supervising or interacting with minors to undergo background checks, participate in mandatory training, and follow code of Conduct. These steps help keep predators out of university programs and provide staff and volunteers with the tools they need to identify predatory behavior and report it to the proper authorities. They also prevent staff and volunteers from putting themselves in situations that could potentially damage their reputation or that of the program.
What if the programs were not on campus at all but in a virtual environment (on Zoom, for example)? Do they still have to meet the policy requirements?
Although many programs are returning to in-person instruction and activities, everyone has learned to deliver quality programming virtually and will continue to offer camps and classes in a virtual environment in the future. It is ideal for the campus and for the students. But there are new and unique risks to offering a program in this way.
Programs should still follow the same policy requirements, but it’s important to consider how they might be different online. For example, the policy prohibits 1:1 interaction between an adult and a minor. This includes phone calls and emails, but can also include communication through a platform such as Canvas.
What kind of resources do you provide for these programs?
YPPS provides resources to help programs understand university policy, best practices for youth programming, and state and federal laws related to these programs. We have also added resources for virtual programs with an updated disclaimer, new risk management plan guidelines and online participant conduct agreement.
Our office also delivers the mandatory training in person or online, with new online training coming in March that will make it easier for students, volunteers and partners who are not on campus. Since implementing the policy in 2016, we have provided training to nearly 8,000 staff, faculty, students and community volunteers.
Additionally, YPPS is hosting a series of best practice symposia ahead of the summer. We invite presenters to speak on “hot topics” in the world of high school and youth programming. Attending these events is a good way to stay up to date and informed about current events and best practices.
You mentioned that YPPS symposia are held every spring. Are you organizing any soon to help people prepare for their summer 2022 programs?
Yes. We held a virtual symposium in early February and a recording is available on the YPPS website. The next event will take place in person on March 8, 2022, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will include a presentation on “Building a Supportive and Resilient Culture for Youth Mental Health” and “Best Practices in Summer Programming” . Registration is free and open to the campus community, and lunch will be provided. Register here.
How can programs get in touch with YPPS?
They can call us at 801-581-4444 or email [email protected]. We are happy to speak with anyone who has questions about how they can navigate politics. Our website also has a list of resources and information here.