Sarah Lawrence College intends to maintain a safe environment for all members of its community, including its students, faculty, staff, guests, volunteers and participants in all of its programs. This policy is intended for the protection of all involved and while it is directed at those who work with or care for children, it is fully expected that all members of the community will meet these standards of conduct regardless of the population with whom they engage. The policy applies to employees or volunteers who work on campus or in any college-sponsored event or project.


  • "Child" means a person under the age of 18.
  • "Child Abuse" is defined as inflicting or allowing to be inflicted upon such child physical injury by other than accidental means that causes or creates a substantial risk of death, serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of physical or emotional health, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ (This includes abuse that can be characterized as sexual in nature).
  • "Child Neglect" is defined as a child whose physical, mental or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result of the failure of his or her parent or other person legally responsible for his or her care to exercise a minimum degree of care.
  • "Abused Child" includes a child whose parent or other person legally responsible for his or her care commits or allows to be committed, an act of sexual abuse against such child as defined by the NY State penal law.
  • "Mandated Reporters" in New York are: Social Workers, Teachers and other school personnel, physicians and other health-care workers, mental health professionals, child care providers, medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officers.
    (Social Services Law Section 371)

Reporting Procedures for Non Mandated Reporters

  • If you suspect or have reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected, or if a child confides that they have been abused or neglected, you must report it immediately to the Director of Campus Safety who will contact the Yonkers Police Department.
  • You may also contact the local child protective services office at one of the numbers below:

Toll Free: 800-342-3720
Local (toll): 518-474-8740
TDD/TTY: 800-638-5163

It is expected that Mandated Reporters will comply with regulations and will report statistics about crimes committed on campus in accordance with the Clery Act.

Criminal Background Checks

All employees who work with children on a regular basis must undergo a criminal background check before being hired by the college. Any volunteers working with children on a regular basis must also undergo a criminal background check before working with children. It may be impractical to do background checks on volunteers or employees who participate in short-term programs or events on the campus. In that case, it is required that the there be more than one adult present at the program or event at all times. Student admission tour guides will be closely supervised and evaluated by admission officers to ensure total adherence to the standards set forth in this policy, In any case all employees and volunteers must adhere to the behavior described below.

All outside vendors or organizations that use college property must adhere to the college's background check policy and in particular will perform criminal background checks on all individuals who work with children on the campus. If requested, the college will provide outside vendors with the name and contact information for the company the college uses to conduct background checks.

Appropriate Behavior and Boundaries with Children

  • Avoid being completely alone with a single child, particularly in a place that is not commonly viewed as a normal meeting area. This includes trips in college vehicles or walks through the campus. Such trips must include either more than one adult, or more than one child. This does not mean that you can't take a child aside for a brief confidential discussion about their behavior or some matter that they have asked to discuss with you. It does mean that such a meeting should ideally take place in full view of other people, if even from a distance or in the presence of a second adult.
  • If you are tutoring a child, providing a private lesson or providing academic guidance, the door should remain open.
  • Use good judgment about physical closeness. Avoid contact that may be misinterpreted. This does not mean that you can't give a child a pat on the back or touch their arm to get their attention. However you should not touch a child against his or her will or engage in highly physical contact, such as picking them up, giving them back rubs, tickling or roughhousing.
  • Use good judgment about bathroom trips. Do not go into the stall with a child. It is best to bring more than one child at a time to the bathroom, but if that is not possible, maintain an appropriate distance from the stall.
  • Use good judgment about verbal or electronic communications with or about children. Do not disclose confidential information, do not disclose or respond to questions involving relationships or sexual orientation. Use discretion and consider the age of the child when discussing personal issues.  
  • Use words with care. Never berate, intimidate, harass, or belittle a child. Giving praise is appropriate but use discretion when complimenting children. Do not get too personal. Be constantly aware of your responsibilities and position as a role model.
  • Do not take pictures of children for personal use. If you have or are provided with pictures of children in your charge, do not distribute them on social networking sites.
  • Do not "friend" children or approach them on social networks.
  • If you are ever unsure about what is appropriate, seek advice from a supervisor or director.

Dormitory Behavior for Overnight Programs and Camps

  • Staff members may not be alone with a child in his or her room or in the staff member's room.
  • Never sleep in a child's room or allow a child to sleep in your room.
  • Staff members may not bring visitors or guests to their rooms or to the dormitories.
  • Use discretion when changing your clothes around children. If at all possible change in an area away from children.
  • Use discretion when supervising while children are showering, changing or using the bathroom.

Expectations for Current Students who Host Prospective Students

  • If at all possible student hosts should not be alone with a prospective student under the age of 18 years.
  • At all times, student hosts must be focused on the safety and welfare of prospective student guests. Hosts must accompany prospective student guests to such campus facilities as dining halls, recreational spaces, and any and all campus events.
  • Under no circumstances will student hosts permit prospective student guests to leave campus during their visits.

Violations of This Policy

Individuals who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Outside vendors that violate this policy will be subject to action up to and including removal from the campus and termination of the contract.