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Guidelines for Online Minors Programs

Minor working on a computer

Adults should be positive role models for minors, and act in a caring, honest, respectful and responsible manner that is consistent with the mission and guiding principles of the university. The risks and challenges associated with working with minors in-person are also present when working with minors online.  Adults working with minors online must follow these expectations to avoid behaviors that could cause harm or be misinterpreted:

  • Do not have one-on-one interactions with minors. There must be at least one other adult or minor participating in any virtual programming.
  • Do not engage or communicate with minors through email or text messages, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or other forms of social media at any time except and unless there is an educational or programmatic purpose and the content of the communication is consistent with the mission of the program or activity and the university. When communicating electronically, you must copy another Program Staff member or the minor’s parent/guardian.
  • Do not wear unprofessional or inappropriate attire when interacting with minors online.
  • Do not display an unprofessional or inappropriate background when interacting with minors online, such as inappropriate images or words on the wall or on the virtual background.
  • Do not meet with minors in person unless the in-person meeting was a part of the program curriculum approved by the Program Sponsor. Any exceptions require authorization by the Program Sponsor and written authorization by the minor’s parent/guardian. The meeting must include more than one adult from the program or activity.
  • Do not allow unsupervised interactions between minors during the virtual programming, such as in breakout rooms. Immediately stop cyberbullying or any disrespectful comments or inappropriate images.
  • Do not engage in any sexual activity, make sexual comments, tell sexual jokes, or share sexually explicit material (or assist in any way to provide access to such material) with minors.
  • Do not engage or allow minors to engage you in romantic or sexual conversations, or related matters, unless required in the role of resident advisors, counselors, or health care providers.
  • Do not use, possess or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while interacting with minors online.
  • Do not tell a minor “this is just between the two of us,” or use similar language that encourages minors to keep secrets from their parent/guardian.

Online Programming Best Practices

  • Virtual interactions that take place between minors during the course of the program, such as in breakout rooms, must be supervised by Program Staff.
  • Recording virtual interactions, such as class instruction and office hours, may allow the minor and parents/guardians to review the instructional materials at a later time.  If your program or activity intends to record any virtual interactions, please ensure that minors and parents/guardians are notified in advance, and that an Assumption of Risk, Release of Claims and Hold Harmless Agreement has been signed.
  • Make sure the virtual meeting is set to private and that individuals who have not been invited to the meeting cannot enter the virtual space.  Avoid posting any meeting links on public sites. Any meeting should have a password that is only sent to participants.
  • Ensure that comments or chat features are limited to participants and that personal contact information is not being shared.
  • Consider updating your program or activity’s code of conduct, if applicable, to address appropriate online etiquette and cyberbullying.

Reporting

Immediately report instances or suspected instances of abuse or inappropriate interactions with minors to the Program Sponsor and University Human Resources (UHR) at (650) 721-4272 or protectminors@stanford.edu.  UHR can provide guidance on any additional reporting obligations.

Guidelines for Online Minors Programs PDF