Effective September 1st of this year, officials at Duke University in North Carolina are requiring everyone on campus who works in programs or activities with minors to undergo criminal background checks and to complete special training. There is also a requirement that all staff, faculty and students report abuse or suspected abuse to authorities. Every year, Duke is the host to anywhere from 8,000 to 9,000 students younger than 18 years old participating in various academic programs, atheletic camps, art festivals, and a host of other learning activities. Vice president for administration, Kyle Cavanaugh, said that it is the responsibiltiy of everyone at the university to protect these young people. He said the requirement to report any suspected abuse “is simple and empowers anyone to act.”
As of September 1st, all Duke programs open to minors must register with the university’s Corporate Risk Management office and be a staff or faculty member. The policy will require the registered programs to conduct background checks on anyone in the programs working with minors and to complete the required training that aims to educate about and protect against abuse. Program requirements, along with instructions are available on the Duke Event Management Website. Cavanaugh met with campus staff and coaches who regularly work with minors in order to talk about the reporting requirements. Cavanaugh said that “the recent tragic events” at other universities necessitated that they “revisit…policies and seek…improvement” even though they already “had policies and procedures in place.”
Some of the policies have already been implemented over the summer, such as with the Duke Talent Identification Program, or TIP, where background checks and training were given to staff members working with minors. TIP’s domestic education director, Shayne Goodrum, said she was happy to answer questions from parents regarding the new abuse policy. She said that they fielded many more calls about safety this summer than previously. Goodman said that TIP has about 4,000 young people participating in multiple locations, and they have always maintained a safe environment for students. The new policy does not apply to Duke students under the age of 18, minors employed by or acting as interns in laboratories headed by a dean or directors, or those working in health care on campus, since those programs already have their own policies in place.
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Author: Michael Klazema