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Teachers College Policy Library
Abuse and Harassment of Minors and Adults
Owner: Diversity & Community Affairs
URL: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/policylibrary/Abuse and Harassment of Minors and Adults
Abuse and Harassment of Minors and Adults:
Guidance for Teachers College Faculty and Staff on Reporting Obligations
Recent events at other universities have served as a powerful reminder that we are all obliged to report and help prevent assault, abuse and harassment. Changes in federal guidance on Title IX, which prohibits gender-based misconduct, sexual harassment and discrimination at educational institutions, have modified our legal obligations, as has the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Please carefully read these guidelines to understand what is required of you.
- All allegations of sexual harassment or violence must be reported. As traditionally understood, sexual harassment involves subjecting an individual to humiliating, abusive, or threatening conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work or educational environment based on his or her membership in a protected group. As currently defined, it also includes gender-based harassment and sexual violence (such as sexual assault, stalking, and dating and domestic violence). You must report any allegations of gender-based misconduct and sexual harassment of any adult or child to one of the following:
- Janice Robinson, Title IX Coordinator & VP for Diversity & Community Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org, x3391
- Katie Embree, Vice Provost, Embree@tc.edu, x3991 or Tom Rock, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, email@example.com, X3083
- Netra Macon, Human Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org, x4026
- Jeri Henry, CU Gender-Based Misconduct Office, email@example.com, (212) 854-1717
The College will take appropriate steps to investigate and respond. If you learn, directly or indirectly, of an allegation of harassment or violence, you are obligated to report it. You should also describe available resources to anyone complaining of or concerned about harassment and encourage him or her to contact one of those listed above or a member of the TC Harassment Panel.
a. Please review the CU Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students, www.sexualrespect.columbia.edu and the TC Policy on Protection from Harassment for more information.
b. While the law on other forms of discriminatory harassment is less clear in specifying community members’ obligations, you should also report (to the same people) allegations of harassment based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, disability, pregnancy or other protected classes.
c. You cannot promise confidentiality to a student or other person reporting harassment or assault, although you should assure them that TC will handle their concerns as sensitively and privately as possible. If a person desires greater confidentiality, you should direct them to:
- A psychologist, counselor or other health care provider acting in that capacity, health.columbia.edu/services/overview.
- Sexual Violence Response & Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center, 212-854-HELP (4357)
- A clergy member, http://ouc.columbia.edu/ouc-chaplain-and-staff/
- TC Ombuds, Dr. Stephen Peverly, firstname.lastname@example.org
- TC Ombuds for Gender-Based Misconduct, Dr. Riddhi Sandil, email@example.com
Remember: TC faculty and staff members who are psychologists, counselors or lawyers cannot promise confidentiality to a student or colleague unless they are acting in their professional counseling or legal advice-giving capacity. These privileges do not apply to instructor-student or collegial relationships.
- Special Duties involving Abuse or Mistreatment of Children:
If a child is in immediate danger, call the police (911) immediately. Then call Michael Feierman x3438, Janice Robinson x3391, or Public Safety at x3333.
In New York, “mandated reporters”  have an obligation to report abuse or mistreatment of minors, including sexual assault. Even if you are not a mandated reporter, you can help protect children by following the same procedures.
Call the Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 635-1522 (mandated reporters) or 800-342-3720 (others). If you make a report, you must also alert TC immediately by contacting Michael Feierman x3438, Janice Robinson x3391, or Public Safety x3333. TC needs to know about possible abuse to protect children and the TC community.
Many members of the TC community work with minors. There are minors at Hollingworth, the Rita Gold Center and elsewhere on campus; many faculty and students work with children in schools and other institutions. Many TC programs have specific procedures for reporting abuse; faculty and staff supervising TC students who work with minors should provide guidance on reporting obligations and procedures. If your program has established procedures, please follow them. If you are not sure what to do or if you have questions, please call Michael Feierman, General Counsel, or Janice Robinson, VP for Diversity and Community Affairs and Title IX Coordinator.
- Policies and Procedures are available in the TC Policy Library, www.tc.edu/policylibrary. They include:
- Protection from Harassment Policy, www.tc.edu/policylibrary/protection_from_harassment. Note that the Interim Policy is being reviewed and will be revised. Please direct comments and questions to Janice Robinson, Katie Embree or Michael Feierman.
- Columbia/Barnard/TC Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students, www.sexualrespect.columbia.edu.
- TC Outline (general guidance on grievance options and procedures), www.tc.edu/policylibrary/grievance_procedures_outline.
For more on reporting child abuse, see www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/publications/Pub1159.pdf.
 If you are not sure whether you are a mandated reporter, assume that you are. In New York, mandated reporters include psychologists, social workers, therapists, mental health professionals, substance abuse and alcoholism counselors, EMTs, certain hospital personnel, registered nurses and physician assistants, school officials (including teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, administrators and others required to hold teaching or administrative licenses or certificates), child care, foster care, residential care, day care center and social service workers, and children camps directors. A full list is at www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/publications/Pub1159.pdf. Mandated reporters must report– or cause to be reported -- suspected abuse or maltreatment when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child encountered in their professional capacity is abused or maltreated or when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused or maltreated because a parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person encountered in their professional capacity states from personal knowledge facts, conditions or circumstances which, if correct, would mean that the child is abused or maltreated.
 “Minor” generally means under 18; some professions must also report abuse of other vulnerable individuals.