Protecting Children on Campus: Colleges Can Take Several Precautions to Safeguard Underage Youth

By Christensen, Scott H. | University Business, August 2018 | Go to article overview

Protecting Children on Campus: Colleges Can Take Several Precautions to Safeguard Underage Youth


Christensen, Scott H., University Business


When we think of the students served by institutions of higher education, we usually think of young adults of undergraduate and graduate age. But colleges and universities often offer programs to children and adolescents under 18 and as young as pre-kindergarten. The convergence of a few uncomfortable facts and recent developments serve as reminders to protect children and adolescents on campus or in school-sponsored programs.

First, more colleges and universities than you might think have programs for children and adolescents. Some have off-campus mentoring or residential summer programs for students from pre-K to high school. Some allow other organizations to use dormitories and facilities for programs during winter or summer breaks.

Second, adults who prey on children and adolescents seek opportunities to work with them. The stranger in a trenchcoat stalking children on playgrounds is a misguided caricatures. The most common and pernicious child predator wins the trust of adults, seeks a vulnerable child for special attention, and then abuses his position of power. He is the physician, the coach, the teacher or the pastor who uses that position of trust and authority to groom other adults and then children.

Third, tragic examples of child sexual abuse over many years have led to states lengthening or eliminating statutes of limitations for civil liability. Some states are making those changes retroactive and even permitting the revival of claims that have already expired.

Many state laws already allow a statute of limitations to start running only when a victim recognizes a causal connection between past abuse and subsequent injury, which can be many years after the abuse.

Steps to protect

The best prevention cannot guarantee success, but there are several actions a college or university can take to improve youth protection.

* Develop and implement an unrelenting youth protection program. …

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