It is vitally important that all of our youth programs have as their highest priority the safety and well-being of the children who participate in them. The programs should be carefully structured and carefully supervised to minimize the risks of physical danger and other harm.
Whenever adults work with children and youth, there is the risk of sexual abuse. Organizers of TU events involving children must structure those events to minimize the risk of sexual abuse. Events must be structured to avoid having one adult working with one child or one youth in an isolated setting.
When working with or instructing children or youth on streams and rivers, volunteers and TU staff must work at least in pairs. Whenever possible, volunteer leaders and staff should limit events involving children and youth to one central area of a stream, pond, lake, recreation area or community center, so activities can be easily monitored.
TU requires that TU volunteers, TU employees, and other TU-retained staff pass a background check before they may participate in any TU-sponsored overnight camp involving children or youth. If your chapter or council is planning an overnight youth camp, please be sure to read the full background check and sexual abuse policy. TU national covers the cost of the background checks.
In addition, Pennsylvania requires that volunteers working with children or youth (even if the work is not in a camp setting) pass background checks in some circumstances, and other states may have similar requirements. If you are uncertain what the requirements of your state are for programs in which adults, as volunteers or paid staff, work with children or youth, please contact volunteer operations staff.
TU has adopted a Sexual Abuse Policy. Every volunteer, TU employee, or other TU-retained staff who will be involved with children or youth in a TU- sponsored event must read, sign and return the policy to TU’s Youth Education Director before participating in the event. It’s the responsibility of the person in charge of your council’s or chapter’s children or youth program to assure that every volunteer, TU employee, or other TU-retained staff has reviewed and signed the Sexual Abuse Policy.
Organizers of TU events involving children and youth need to keep in mind that children and youth cannot legally consent to participate in the event, cannot agree to waive any right they may have to pursue claims against the organizers of the event, and cannot consent to the use of photographs containing their image. Therefore, TU strongly recommends that TU national staff and each chapter and council sponsoring a project involving children or youth obtain a written TU Volunteer Waiver from the parent or legal guardian of each child or youth who will be involved in the event. The requirements for a successful liability waiver differ from state to state, and TU urges the organizers of TU events involving children and youth to have a local lawyer review the waiver forms and amend them as necessary to bring them into compliance with the particular state’s law. TU staff and volunteers who participate in programs that occur under the auspices of other organizations, such as schools and boys and girls clubs, do not need to obtain liability waivers for children participating in those programs. That would include programs such as Trout in the Classroom.
Children and youth, like adults, have a right to their privacy, and no one must use photographs, videos, or other depictions of a child’s or youth’s likeness without the express written permission of the child’s or youth’s parent or legal guardian. A model release form giving permission for TU, its chapters and its councils to use a photograph or video of an adult, a child, or a youth is found in the Tacklebox. No child or youth should be prohibited from participating in a TU-sponsored event if his or her parent or guardian declines to sign the model release form. If a parent or guardian of a child or youth declines to sign the model release form, no pictures, videos or other likenesses of the child or youth may be used by anyone associated with the TU-sponsored event.
Youth member contact information is available for download in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org. Please note that a separate radio button must be selected to access data for youth – they do not pull through to your regular chapter/ council roster. Trout Unlimited recommends that chapters and councils contact youth members with specific communications, invitations, etc… and not target youth with every item that may not be age-appropriate for members under 18.
TU’s liability policy covers events involving children, subject to the limitations and exclusions of the policy. Councils and chapters have the option of purchasing supplemental accident insurance, which covers physical injury to a participant in a TU event without regard to whether the injury was caused by anyone’s fault.