Guidelines for Interaction with Minors
Statement of Purpose
Washington and Lee University ("W&L") is committed to promoting the safety and protection of children and young people under the age of 18 (referenced in these guidelines, collectively, as minors) on its campus and in University sponsored or affiliated events, programs, and activities off campus. To further that goal, these guidelines establish conduct expectations for University representatives and unaffiliated individuals, as defined below, in their interactions with minors in such settings.
The conduct of University representatives and unaffiliated individuals can inspire and motivate those with whom they interact or, alternatively, has the potential to cause harm if inappropriate. When engaging with minors, University representatives and unaffiliated individuals should be particularly aware that they are responsible for maintaining appropriate physical and emotional boundaries at all times.
These guidelines apply broadly to all University representatives (faculty, staff, independent contractors, volunteers and students) interacting with minors on campus or in University sponsored or affiliated events, programs, and activities off campus, as well as unaffiliated individuals who interact with minors on campus.
- Campus means all buildings, facilities, and properties that are owned, operated, managed, or controlled by the University.
- Minor includes any child or young person who is under 18 years of age and who is not enrolled at the University.
- Unaffiliated Individual
- Unaffiliated individual includes employees, agents, and volunteers of groups, organizations, and institutions not affiliated with the University who interact with minors on campus.
- University Representative
- University representative, for purposes of these guidelines, includes all University faculty, staff, independent contractors, volunteers, and students who interact with minors on campus or in University sponsored or affiliated events, programs, and activities off campus.
Communication with minors should occur only for purposes directly related to the reason that the minor is or will be on campus or at a location off campus for an event, function, or other purpose that is under the direction and authority of the University. The following guidelines are intended to reduce the risk of private or otherwise inappropriate communication between University representatives or unaffiliated individuals and minors:
- Communication in any medium that is outside the role of the professional or volunteer relationship (teacher, coach, host, etc.) should be avoided.
- E-mail exchanges between a minor and a University representative should be made using a wlu.edu e-mail address.
- Use of text messaging or any form of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to communicate with minors should only be done for group conversations directly related to the relevant program, event, or activity.
One-on-one meetings with a minor should be held in a public area, in a room where the interaction can be observed, or in a room with the door left open after another University representative or unaffiliated individual has been notified about the meeting.
- Avoid any seductive speech or gestures with minors, as well as physical contact that could be perceived as exploiting, harassing, or abusive;
- Show prudent discretion before touching another person, especially a minor - - be aware of how physical touch could be perceived or received, and whether it would be an appropriate expression of greeting, care, concern, control, or celebration under the circumstances.
Physical contact with minors can be misconstrued by both the recipient and by those who observe it, should only occur when completely nonsexual and otherwise appropriate, and never in private.
- Physically discipline minors;
- Make sexual material in any form, including printed and electronic, available to minors; or
- Assist minors in any way in gaining access to sexual materials in any form, including printed and electronic.
Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
- No use of tobacco products, alcohol, or illegal drugs when working with minors;
- Must not be under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol when working with minors;
- Must not provide minors with alcohol, illegal drugs, or tobacco products.
University representatives and unaffiliated individuals should not accept gifts from a minor or give gifts to a minor without the knowledge of such minor's parent or guardian.
If a University representative or unaffiliated individual has reason to suspect that a minor has been or is being abused or neglected, he or she shall immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect in accordance with W&L's Protocol for Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect.
Abused or Neglected Child (Virginia Code Section 63.2-100), means any child under 18 years of age whose parent or any person responsible for his or her care:
- Causes or threatens to cause a non-accidental physical or mental injury;
- Has a child present during the manufacture of a controlled substance or during the unlawful sale of such substance where such activity would constitute a felony violation;
- Neglects or refuses to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, emotional nurturing, or health care;
- Abandons the child;
- Neglects or refuses to provide adequate supervision in relation to a child's age and level of development;
- Knowingly leaves a child alone in the same dwelling with a person, not related by blood or marriage, who has been convicted of an offense against a minor for which registration is required as a violent sexual offender; or
- Commits or allows to be committed any illegal sexual act upon a child, including incest, rape, indecent exposure, prostitution, or allows a child to be sued in any sexually explicit visual material.
- If a University representative or unaffiliated individual does not have reason to suspect that a minor has been or is being abused or neglected, but believes that a minor may be the subject of inappropriate or potentially harmful attention, communication or physical touching, he or she should report it immediately to the Director of Public Safety so that an assessment or investigation of the conduct may be made and early intervention accomplished, as appropriate.
If W&L's Director of Public Safety has reason to believe that these Guidelines have been violated, he will promptly review the matter with the Executive Director of Human Resources (for employees, volunteers and unaffiliated persons), or the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students (for students). Violation of these Guidelines will result in discipline up to dismissal from enrollment, employment, or other role with W&L, and removal from campus, depending upon the severity of the circumstances.
For any questions about the application or interpretation of these Guidelines, please contact W&L's Director of Public Safety or Title IX Coordinator.
This policy has not yet been revised.