Protection of Minors Policy
All Ursinus College employees, volunteers, and certain independent contractors who, in the course of their employment or volunteer activity, have reasonable cause to suspect Child Abuse, as defined by Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law and this Policy, are required to report suspected Child Abuse to Childline and to the College.
This Policy is intended to apply broadly and, when in doubt, members of the College community should always err on the side of reporting suspected Child Abuse.
Who Must Report
The following individuals are considered Mandated Reporters under Pennsylvania state law and College policy:
- All Ursinus College employees, including full-time and part-time employees, adjunct faculty members, and contracted employees;
- All volunteers who have direct contact with children; and,
- All independent contractors who are involved in a program, activity or service sponsored by the College in which they will have direct contact with children.
Direct contact with children includes the care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.
A program, activity or service is any of the following in which children participate: (a) a youth camp or program; (b) a recreational camp or program; (c) a sports or athletic program; (d) a community or social outreach program; (e) an enrichment or educational program; and/or (f) a troop, club or similar organization.
Attorneys and clergy who receive information through confidential communications made to an attorney subject to the attorney-client privilege or to a member of the clergy subject to the clergy-penitent privilege are not required to report suspected Child Abuse.
When a Report Must Be Made
All Mandated Reporters must report suspected Child Abuse under the following circumstances:
- The Mandated Reporter comes into contact with the child in the course of employment, occupation and practice of a profession or through a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, as defined above;
- The Mandated Reporter is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child, or is affiliated with an agency, institution, organization, school, regularly established church or religious organization or other entity that is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child;
- Any person makes a specific disclosure to the Mandated Reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of Child Abuse.
- An individual 14 years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to the Mandated Reporter that the individual has committed Child Abuse.
The duty to report is triggered by reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the age of 18 is a victim of Child Abuse.
Reasonable cause may be based on the Mandated Reporter’s own observations or knowledge, or on information shared with the employee by the child or any other individual. Reasonable cause to suspect is a very low threshold. It does not require proof, nor actual evidence, and the Mandated Reporter should not seek to investigate the information. Reasonable cause may exist regardless of whether the date of abuse, the specific nature of the act, or the identity of the perpetrator is known. When in doubt about whether to make a report, the Mandated Reporter should err on the side of reporting the conduct of concern.
Child Abuse includes intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, through action or inaction, doing the following:
- Causing or creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to a child through any act or failure to act;
- Causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury to a child through any act or failure to act or a series of such acts or failures to act;
- Causing the death of the child through any act or failure to act;
- Causing or creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any act or failure to act;
- Causing serious physical neglect of a child (repeated, prolonged or egregious failure to supervise a child in a matter consistent with the child’s age and abilities, or the failure to provide a child with adequate essentials, including food, shelter or medical care);
- Fabricating, feigning or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease which results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment to the child through any recent act;
- Engaging a child in a severe form of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking; or
- Engaging in any of the following recent (within two years) acts, even if they do not result in injury:
- Kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing or cutting a child in a manner that endangers the child;
- Unreasonably restraining or confining a child, based on consideration of the method, location or the duration of the restraint or confinement;
- Forcefully shaking, slapping or striking a child under one year of age;
- Interfering with the breathing of a child;
- Causing a child to be present during the operation of a methamphetamine laboratory;
- Leaving a child unsupervised with an individual, other than the child’s parent, who the actor knows or reasonably should have known, is a registered sex offender or sexually violent predator.
How to Make A Report
A Mandated Reporter who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is the victim of Child Abuse must take the following actions:
- If the child is in immediate danger, call 911.
- Immediately make a report of the suspected Child Abuse by:
- Calling Pennsylvania’s ChildLine (a 24-hour toll free telephone reporting system operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services) at 800-932-0313; or,
- Filing a written report at compass.state.pa.us/cwis.
- Note that an oral report to ChildLine must be followed by a written report at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis within 48 hours of the call. Conversely, a report made initially by electronic submission does not need to be followed by a call to ChildLine.
- After contacting ChildLine, the Mandated Reporter must also immediately contact the Ursinus College Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will confirm with the Mandated Reporter that the suspected abuse has been reported through ChildLine and/or compass.state.pa.us/cwis. The Title IX Coordinator can also assist a Mandated Reporter in making a report, but there is no requirement that the report be disclosed to the College before making the report to ChildLine. The Title IX Coordinator has the obligation to facilitate the cooperation of the College with the investigation of the report.
The College’s interim Title IX Coordinator is:
Associate Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator
PROTECTION FOR GOOD FAITH REPORTING
Under Pennsylvania law, a person who makes a good faith report of suspected Child Abuse, whether required to report or not, has immunity from civil and criminal liability.
Mandated Reporters are also protected from employment discrimination for making a good faith report of suspected Child Abuse.
Failure to Report
Under Pennsylvania law, a Mandated Reporter who willfully fails to report a case of suspected Child Abuse or to make a referral to the appropriate authorities commits an offense up to the level of a felony of the third degree. Mandated Reporters who negligently, recklessly, or willfully fail to report suspected Child Abuse may also be subject to disciplinary action by the College, up to and including dismissal.
Additionally, anyone impeding or obstructing an investigation into suspected Child Abuse, or retaliating against anyone involved in the reporting or investigation of suspected Child Abuse may be in violation of Pennsylvania law or otherwise subject to disciplinary action by the College.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Ursinus College will make educational programs available to College employees aimed at the prevention of Child Abuse, the recognition of the signs and symptoms of Child Abuse, and reporting requirements and procedures. Mandated Reporters may be required to complete designated trainings on a periodic basis as a requirement of employment.