Each year more than 50,000 minors interact with Harvard University through camps, academic enrichment experiences, and myriad other programs. The Policy for the Safety & Protection of Minors establishes:

  • basic guidelines for all members of the Harvard community to follow, and
  • processes to promote the well-being of all youth participating in Harvard's programs on- or off-campus.

The Policy will not apply to, among others: (1) minors receiving medical or dental care, (2) minors who remain under the supervision of their parents or guardians, (3) minors involved in research studies, or (4) minors enrolled full time at Harvard College or the Graduate and Professional Schools.

This summary offers an overview of the minimum standards set by the Policy.  Tubs and individual Programs are encouraged to elaborate on the minimum standards in ways that meet their unique needs.

Interacting with Minors

The Policy sets out Guidelines for Interacting with Minors.  The Guidelines address awareness, boundaries, and various appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.  Everyone who interacts with minors should promote a safe environment for them.  Physical, emotional, and sexual boundaries have particular importance.  Physical discipline is prohibited, as is providing tobacco, alcohol, or other adult materials.  Parents or guardians should be notified of gifts, whether given or received, and of online communications with minors.  One-on-one meetings with minors in private spaces should be avoided whenever possible.

Reporting an Issue

Everyone must report suspicions of potential harm to minors that they encounter in Harvard-related programs or on Harvard’s premises. Examples include inappropriate activity, child abuse, or neglect. You can read the full policy below.

The reporting process emphasizes the needs of the minor. The suspected wrongdoer's status and character are irrelevant. For questions about reporting or for further assistance, contact

Harvard’s TUB sponsoring office for the program
Harvard’s Youth Protection Officer
Harvard’s Police Department

Program Requirements

The requirements apply to Harvard-related programs both on- and off-campus. They also apply to outside parties that rent Harvard facilities for activities involving minors. The basic program requirements are:

  1. Registration. Every youth-serving program must complete an online registration that calls for, among other information, its dates, location, staff, and expected number and ages of participants. The responsible Tub Sponsoring Office (TSO) will evaluate the information, consult as appropriate with the Program Administrator to reduce risks, and approve or disapprove the program. TSOs may also consult with the University’s Youth Protection Officer for further guidance.

  2. Background Screening. Certain Responsible Adults must complete a satisfactory background screening before working with minors.  In residential programs, background screening is required for all staff and volunteers who have access to the residences. Background screening is also required in programs involving physical contact, disrobing, athletics, or private interaction with a minor without another adult present.

  3. Training on Working with Minors. Anyone required to have a background screening must also complete Harvard’s online training program on working with minors.


Each youth-serving program designates a Program Administrator, who must be a Harvard faculty or staff member or a Harvard student.  The Program Administrator has responsibility for registering the program and ensuring completion of the required background screenings and training for Responsible Adults.  Each Tub (Harvard school or unit) designates a Tub Sponsoring Office (TSO) to assist the program administrators and to oversee compliance.  In addition, the University-wide Youth Protection Officer supports the Tubs and their youth-serving programs to reduce risk, address problems, and promote best practices.