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Standards of Behavior with Children and Youth Guide

Cornell University expects program staff who participate in children and youth programs at Cornell University will foster and maintain an appropriate, safe, and secure environment for minors.

Standards of Behavior with Children and Youth 

The Standards of Behavior with Children and Youth aim to promote a safe and secure environment for any program or event organized by Cornell University that involves Minors, especially Covered Programs. Program staff interacting with minors should familiarize themselves with the following:

Awareness of Responsibilities: Program staff must be aware of the responsibilities that accompany their interactions with Minors, including their responsibilities under University Policy 8.8 Children and Youth Safety.

Appropriate Boundaries: Program staff must maintain appropriate physical boundaries at all times. Program staff shall not, under any circumstances, engage in any physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. Nor shall they engage in covert or overt sexual behaviors, including seductive speech, gestures, depictions, or physical contact that exploits, abuses, or harasses a Minor in any way, or exposes a Minor to such treatment by another individual. Program staff must prohibit any and all of the above-stated conduct between or among Minors. Program staff must not shower, bathe, or undress with or in the presence of Minors.

Electronic Communication: Program Staff must restrict electronic or social media communication with children and youth to Cornell University program-related business purposes, whether conducted through email, text message, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or any other form of electronic communication.

Physical Contact: Program staff shall not, under any circumstances, touch Minors in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate or allow inappropriate touching between or among Minors.

One-on-One Interactions:  Program Staff must only engage in one-on-one interactions with a Minor when necessary. Program staff must not engage in, nor have the appearance of engaging in inappropriate one-on-one interactions. Program staff shall not tell a Minor to keep secrets from other program personnel, participants, and/or their parent/guardian (e.g., use of language similar to "this is just between the two of us"). Program staff must not meet with Minors outside of established times for program activities and must not provide transportation for a Minor in any vehicle when no other program staff or participants are in the vehicle, except in the event of an emergency or with written parental consent.

Drugs, Alcohol Use, and Other Prohibited Items: Program staff should never, under any circumstances, promote the use of, possess, use, or be under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol in the presence of Minors. Program staff must not use any type of weapon or explosive device in the presence of Minors. Program staff must never make available illicit drugs, alcohol, weapons, or explosive devices to Minors.

Gift Giving: Program staff should never give a gift to an individual Minor without notice to the parent and institution.

Pictures: Program staff should never take or use a photograph or a video of a Minor participating in a sponsored university child and youth program unless a parental/guardian media release form has been signed.

When Traveling Away from Campus:

  • Program staff must travel with the group.

  • Program staff should never stay in the same room overnight with a Minor who is not their own child (unless the parent or guardian is also in the room).

  • Program staff should not assign Minors of different genders to sleep in the same room overnight unless written permission is obtained from a parent or guardian of each Minor.

  • Program staff and Minors should not use shower/bath facilities on trips simultaneously.  If there are no separate facilities, a trip leader must publish a schedule that allows individual privacy.


All Program staff who have reasonable cause to believe that a Minor has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse are required under New York State law to report the situation to the New York State authorities and Cornell University Public Safety under University Policy 8.8, as outlined on the CYS Reporting an Incident webpage.


  • Minor: for purposes of this policy, a Minor is defined as any individual under the age of 18 years old, who is not a matriculated college student at Cornell University or elsewhere.

  • Program Staff: is considered faculty, staff, student, or volunteers that work with or volunteer for programming involving children and youth and are responsible for or otherwise oversee the care, custody, and supervision of children and youth in Covered Programs


Please contact the Children and Youth Safety Program ( with any questions regarding University-sponsored children and youth programming.