Following the sexual abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University in the fall of 2011, the University is re-evaluating its policies surrounding minors on campus.
Starting this summer, background checks will be required for all employees of programs where individuals under the age of 18 live on campus, whether or not they are directly hired by UNC.
“(The Penn State scandal) heightened everyone’s awareness of responsibilities universities have to protect minors who might be on campus,” said Carol Tresolini, vice provost for academic initiatives.
The background checks come at the recommendation of a task force that deals with issues relating to minors, said Taffye Clayton, vice provost for diversity and multicultural affairs, who leads the task force with Tresolini.
In August 2012, the task force was charged with compiling all University or third-party programs that bring minors to campus, Clayton said.
She said they found that more than 125 programs, some residential and others nonresidential, serve minors at the University who are not UNC students. These include sports camps, admissions events and arts programs.
Tresolini said there is a broad range of policies regarding minors in these programs. Some require background checks or staff training, while others do not.
“It made it clear to us we need to establish some good, strong policies and practices,” she said.
Matthew Brody, associate vice chancellor for human resources and a member of the task force, said there are multiple pieces to the policy being developed, and requiring background checks for employees is the first.
“The background check piece is something we already have in place for current (University) employees, and can be quickly ramped up,” he said.
Tresolini said the committee hopes to have a full policy on minors prepared by the end of the summer, including guidelines for reporting violations and regulations for training and conduct.
But the group didn’t want to wait to finish the policy before instituting background checks in residential programs, she said.
“We felt that the greatest risk is with residential overnight camps,” she said.
All employees will have a background check annually, and the costs will be covered by the program. Tresolini said the University pays around $25 for each background check.
Denise Young, director of education and planning at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, said University staff at the planetarium already receive background checks and training.
She said the camps are revenue-generating businesses, and the money that campers pay covers fees like background checks.
Eventually all programs, including nonresidential ones, will require staff to have a background check, Brody said.
“Certainly there are costs, and this is one cost among many when you employ individuals,” Brody said.
“The value of one child being protected is priceless.”
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