January 24, 2012
Effective September 1, 2011
On June 17, 2011, the Texas Governor signed SB 1414, which creates new requirements for ‘institutions of higher education’ that provide or host campus programs for minors. Sexual Abuse Awareness Training is now required by the newly enacted Section 51.976 of the Texas Education Code.
What is a ‘Campus Program for Minors’ – Section 51.976(a)(2)
College campuses regularly host ‘campus programs for minors’ — camps for various activities including athletics, cheerleading, debate, theater, dance, music, and more. College campuses are usually teeming in the summers with high-school-aged students attending various programs, camps and conferences.
Sometimes these campus programs are created and provided by the college; other times, the programs are provided by third-parties that negotiate the use of campus facilities.
The new legislation defines a ‘campus program for minors’ as any program that is (1) operated by or on the campus of an institution for higher learning; (2) for the purpose of recreation, athletics, religion or education; (3) for at least 20 campers; (4) who attend or temporarily reside at the camp for all or part of at least 4 days.
This is a very broad definition, and intended so by the legislature.
Who is Impacted by the New Law – Section 51.976(a)(4) and (5)
SB 1414 creates requirements for those who offer ‘campus programs’ – a host college/campus or the entity providing the program. [These can be identical when the campus program is created and hosted by the college.] Though the term ‘college’ is used above, the definition of ‘institution of higher learning’ in the new law is much more broad, including all institutions from the University of Texas to Clarendon Community College (see Texas Education Code, Section 61.003 for a list of those entities covered by the new statute).
What is Required – Section 51.976(b) and (d)
Each campus program for minors has a program operator – whether an employee of the college or an independent third-party. The program operator is responsible for staffing the program that delivers services to minors. Each person employed in or by the program having contact with campers must complete a state-approved Sexual Abuse Awareness Training (see also analysis of the Texas Youth Camp Act, Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 142.001 et seq. … YOUTH CAMP ACT ANALYSIS).
The program operator must submit information to the Texas Dept of State Health Services (TDSHS) demonstrating that each employee of the campus program for minors has completed a state-approved Sexual Abuse Awareness Training. The training is to be renewed every 24 months; the program operator is to retain certificates of completion (or other written records of compliance) for 24 months, or until the employee renews the training.
What is Sexual Abuse Awareness Training
Sexual Abuse Awareness Training, generally, provides the following information: definitions and effects of sexual abuse and child molestation, typical patterns of behavior/methods abusers employ to victimize children (grooming behaviors), warning signs and symptoms associated with sexual abuse, requirements and methods for reporting suspected abuse, and recommended procedures to reduce the risk of sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse Awareness Training serves as the foundation of any safety system designed to protect children from child sexual abuse.
Availability of Online Training
Section 51.976 requires only that the Sexual Abuse Awareness Training comply with the requirements of Chapter 141 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. State-approved trainings can be obtained online.
State-Approved Awareness Training for Colleges
MinistrySafe and Abuse Prevention Systems provide live and online Sexual Abuse Awareness Training; both are state-approved trainings. MinistrySafe and Abuse Prevention Systems members have access to sample child protection policies, screening forms, and an online control panel for generating training links and tracking completion and renewal, in compliance with the new state law.