Berkeley students can probably remember their elders warning them to watch out for adults who might take a sexual interest in them. Welcome to adulthood! Now, when your student organization holds an event that includes minors, parents may be warning their children to watch out for YOU. And you are now in a power position relative to minors, which makes you more vulnerable to charges of sexual exploitation.
Even if you haven't done a thing, just being charged with sexual exploitation of a minor can damage your life. You need to take precautions so there is no way such charges can arise. Start with the basics:
- Stay away from situations or conversations with sexual overtones.
- Minimize one-on-one contact with minors.
- If you are going to meet one-on-one with a minor, do it in a public place like a cafe, or in a room with open windows and doors.
- When posting to a minor's social media site or texting or emailing the minor, make sure to cc another adult.
If you're a leader of a student organization, help your members by insisting on the following:
- Have at least two adult members at each activity involving minors, and make sure they keep in visual contact with each other as much as practically possible.
- Do not allow an individual adult to interact with an individual minor in a private space.
- Prohibit members from communicating in a personal manner with minors via text message, social media, or email without cc'ing at least one other adult.
- Report any accident or incident involving a minor to the parent/guardian as soon as possible.
- Release minors into the custody of authorized adults only.