Child Protection

Published September 23, 2019

The University at Buffalo is committed to protecting the safety and well being of children who are on university premises, and/or who participate in university-related programs and activities, both on and off campus.  UB’s Child Protection Policy is consistent with all laws and regulations protecting the welfare of children.

UB’s Child Protection Policy is consistent with legal obligations pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, New York State Social Services Law, New York State Education Law, New York State Penal Law, and other applicable laws and regulations protecting the welfare of children.  

Under the UB Child Protection Policy, all members of the university community – including students, staff, faculty, visitors, vendors and guests to campus – are required to comply with the “Conduct Requirements” section of the policy. In brief, individuals must conduct themselves appropriately while in the presence of children who are on campus and/or who participate in university-related programs, take reasonable measures to ensure their safety, and report instances or suspicion of inappropriate conduct or child abuse. People who have responsibility for programs that include children must meet basic standards of safety, supervision and care.

The Child Protection Policy includes a duty to report child abuse and inappropriate conduct. This duty extends to all UB employees. It also applies to UB students who interact with children as part of their work-related duties or academic program. For example, a nursing student who was participating in an academic program in a hospital setting would be mandated to report a classmate who was engaging in inappropriate conduct with a child in that same setting.

This policy also imposes a specific obligation upon any employee who authorizes the use of university facilities to non-UB groups that will include children. Examples of these groups include day care, sports camps, academic enrichment programs, and dance/theater groups. When granting authorization to visitors, the employee must ensure that the person receiving authorization is aware of the Child Protection Policy and obtain a completed Acknowledgement of UB’s Child Protection Requirements form.

The State University of New York (SUNY) issued its own separate Child Protection Policy in 2014. While many of the requirements of the SUNY policy are identical to UB’s policy, the SUNY Policy sets forth additional requirements for any program or activity where the custody, control, and supervision of children under seventeen years of age is entrusted to the University.  SUNY’s Child Protection Policy requires these programs and activities to conduct sex offender registry checks of individuals who will be working with children, notify them of SUNY’s policy and provide training on the policy.  UB notifies department heads of the requirements of the SUNY and UB Child Protection Policies on an annual basis

Individuals must report instances of inappropriate conduct to the responsible UB official under which the activity occurred. Persons who witness, receive a report of, or reasonably believe an instance of child abuse has occurred must immediately report such abuse to UB Police (645-2222) and the UB Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (645-2266). 

Individuals may report inappropriate conduct or child abuse anonymously. While due process considerations may limit the ability to investigate anonymous reports, the university will take appropriate action to ensure the safety of children in response to an anonymous report.

The university is committed to providing a safe environment for children; the maltreatment of children will not be tolerated.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this policy include off-campus conduct?

Yes, if the conduct involves a university-sponsored program, or if a University student or employee is acting as a representative of the university while the conduct takes place. For example, a medical student working in a hospital as part of the academic program would be responsible for appropriate conduct toward children under this policy. 

The Policy defines “child” as anyone under the age of 17. How does this apply to undergraduates who are 16 or younger?

The conduct requirements in the policy apply to undergraduates who are under the age of 17 to the extent that they are “reasonable and appropriate” when considering the student’s age and student status. For example, a student’s residence in a dormitory would not be interpreted as violating the conduct guideline prohibiting unsupervised sleepovers. Similarly, a student who used curse words in the presence of an undergraduate under the age of 17 would not be considered to be in violation of the conduct requirements of the policy. By means of contrast, activities involving undergraduate students under seventeen years of age that are abusive, and/or prohibited under New York State law – ex., providing alcohol, engaging in physical abuse – are in violation of the policy.

Many UB students and employees work with children in the local community – for example, as interns or medical treatment providers. These individuals are sometimes mandated child abuse reporters under New York State Law, or they might work in programs that already have obligations to report child abuse. Does the Child Protection Policy impose additional requirements for reporting abuse that they might observe in a clinical or treatment setting?

The purpose of the Child Protection Policy is to ensure that the abuse, neglect or mistreatment of children is addressed in an effective and appropriate manner. If a mandated reporter procedure ensures effective reporting of an incident, then it is not necessary to report the incident to University Police and EDI under the procedure. At the same time, the University needs to be aware of risks on its campus or related to University personnel or programs. A report under the Child Protection Policy will therefore not be necessary under these circumstances: (1) the conduct occurs off-campus, AND (2) the alleged abuser is not a UB employee or student, or working as part of a UB program. 

Example 1: Mario, a student in the Graduate School of Education, is performing a teaching internship as part of his academic program. During a conversation with a student, Mario notices suspicious bruising on the child’s neck. Mario must report what he observed in accordance with policies of his program and the school in which he is working. He is not required to report this under the Child Protection Policy.

Example 2: Amber, a student in the Masters of Social Work program, is talking with an eleven year old girl as part of a field placement assignment. The girl discloses sexual abuse by family members. Amber must report this in accordance with the policies of her program and the site where she is working. She is not required to report this under the Child Protection Policy. 

Example 3: Derek is in a pediatric residency rotation. He notices a fellow resident shake an uncooperative child out of anger. He must report this in accordance with the requirements of his residency program. Because he witnessed abusive behavior by a UB resident, he must also report this under the Child Protection Policy.

Does this require that UB employees supervise children in general use facilities, such as a library or concert? Are minors going to be prohibited from these facilities unless they are supervised?

The Child Protection Policy contemplates that individuals under 17 years of age will engage in the general use of university facilities, such as libraries, concert venues and study areas. This general access to campus as a member of the public, unaffiliated with a structured program or activity, does not require that UB employees will provide individual supervision to minors. At the same time, UB employees are expected to report circumstances of abuse, neglect or inappropriate conduct that they observe toward children in these situations. The policy also states that the university, in its discretion, may limit the access of minors to events where their participation is not age-appropriate.

Example 5: A UB Librarian notices that a teenager uses the library to study every afternoon. Because the teenager is of an appropriate age to be in the library without supervision, there is no inappropriate conduct and no need for action.

Example 6: A UB Librarian notices that a seven year old child is dropped off at the library regularly and left alone for long periods of time. Because the child is not of an appropriate age to be left unsupervised and her safety is being compromised, this situation must be reported.

Example 7: A UB employee working at a concert event observes two twelve year olds attempting to gain entrance to a concert where there is a mosh pit and a noticeable marijuana odor. Because the children are not of an age where participation is safe and appropriate, the employee can deny entrance to the concert.

What role does the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) have in responding to reports of child abuse?

EDI serves as a centralized point of referral and coordination when there are reports of child abuse. Reports of abuse could potentially involve a variety of offices, depending upon the parties involved. For example, in addition to University Police or other law enforcement, complaints of abuse against UB employees might involve the Office of Employee Relations; complaints against students could involve the Office of Student Conduct and Advocacy, in addition to students’ academic programs; complaints against medical residents would require notification to the Office of Graduate Medical Education (GME). EDI ensures that the appropriate offices are notified and respond to the situation in accordance with applicable policies and procedures. 

In most cases, EDI does not investigate claims of child abuse. In the event that a child abuse claim involves conduct that is prohibited under the Discrimination and Harassment Policy, EDI will investigate the claim in accordance with this policy.

Are reports of child abuse or inappropriate conduct kept confidential?

Reports of child abuse or inappropriate conduct are shared on a need-to-know basis. EDI and University Police will inform only those individuals who need to know of the situation because of their administrative position or duties in responding to the occurrence. Responsible officials should similarly disclose instances of inappropriate conduct only to those persons who need to know in order to appropriately respond. For example, claims of inappropriate conduct by a University employee should be disclosed to the University’s Office of Employee Relations and to the employee’s supervisor, but not to the employee’s coworkers.

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