Policy Statement: Blue Water Theatre Company (BWTC) has zero tolerance of child abuse. As an organization that primarily serves children, our highest priority is child safety. It is the policy of BWTC to diligently empower and protect Youth by providing safe spaces for theatre education and experiences. We work every day to ensure our policies, procedures and practices embody the highest safety standards for the young people that we serve.
This policy is communicated and applied to staff, student actors, students taking BWTC classes, volunteers and contractors. It is also shared with parents of students engaged at BWTC. Questions about interpreting this policy should be directed to Blue Water Theatre Company’s Managing Director (or other appropriate party).
Definitions: For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:
- Adult: any person 21 years of age or older who is an employee, intern, independent contractor, or volunteer at BWTC.
- Youth: any person 20 years of age or younger, involved in BWTC programming, who is a student, actor, volunteer, intern, or employee. Individuals are considered a “Youth” at BWTC throughout a particular program or production in which they are involved, even if they turn age 21 during the course of the program or production.
- Private Space: all non-public spaces including any office space, dressing room, bathroom, and rehearsal room.
- Public Space: any common space, accessible to the general public or to those granted access to the facilities including lobbies, hallways and the theatre.
- Rule of 3: BWTC practices safe Adult to Youth ratios with a “Rule of 3”, meaning no Adult will be one-on-one with a Youth in a Private Space.
- Mandatory Background Checks
Background checks, including criminal history and the National Sex Offender database checks, are conducted for every position prior to hire, and BWTC conducts periodic rechecs for positions working directly with children. These background checks are conducted in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other legal requirements. Background checks are not permitted for individuals under 18.
BWTC prohibits Adult interactions with Youth outside of scheduled rehearsals, performances, classes or BWTC-sanctioned professional activities.
Safe Ratios / Rule of 3: BWTC intends to have at least 2 Adults present at all times when Youth are in the building, but at a minimum follows the ‘Rule of 3’, meaning no Adult will be one-on-one with a Youth in a Private Space. Specific guidelines with respect to fraternization include, without limitation:
a. Adults must comply with the Rule of 3. However, should Adults need to work one-on-one with Youth (beginning of class while waiting for other students, during class for discussion, instruction, or coaching), the Adult will do so either in a Public Space or the door to any Private Space will remain fully open providing access to a Public Space.
b. Adults may not offer and/or give rides to Youth at any time, for any reason (unless the Adult and Youth are family members). However, in certain limited circumstances where BWTC-sanctioned professional activities require it and where parent authorization is provided, an Adult may provide a ride to a Youth.
c. Adults may not host or accept invitations to parties hosted by Youth or their family, unless the entire cast or class is invited and the Youth’s parent/guardian is present.
d. We recognize that Adults may have relationships with a Youth’s family outside of BWTC (whether familial or otherwise) and section b and c do not apply to those relationships and applies only to BWTC-related rides or parties.
Adults are prohibited from “dating” Youth or otherwise having outside personal contact with Youth, or encouraging an emotional and/or sexual relationship with a Youth who is in any way affiliated with BWTC or its programs. State laws prohibit sexual contact or sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 18. Consent of a minor is irrelevant in the eyes of the law. This includes improper touching; one must be aware that even a casual gesture may cause emotional injury, particularly to a child.
- Pick-Up and Drop Off
For Youth in 3rd-8th grade, parents must come into the theatre to pick up their children. Youth in 9th-12th grade may leave on their own. In the rare event there is one Adult and two Youths in the building, we ask that both Youths stay until the last pick-up arrives (Application of ‘Rule of 3’). It is the responsibility of the Adult in the building to make the request for this requirement.
- Appropriate Language and Communications
Adults and Youth are expected to comport themselves with respectful behavior and to use age appropriate language at all times. Sharing of inappropriate language, images, materials or content is prohibited.
- Social Media and Electronic Communication
Adults are not permitted to be “friends” with Youth on any social media platforms, to send email and/or text messages, conduct phone calls, photograph or post images of Youth outside of formal communication relevant to the business of BWTC. Where pre-existing relationships exist between an Adult and a Youth related to social media or other electronic communication, the Adult will notify, in writing, the Managing Director (or other appropriate party).
All show-related communication will be made through a BWTC-approved app (like Band). In the event an Adult needs to communicate via email or text with a Youth, a parent/guardian of the Youth must be included in the communication.
- Child Abuse/Neglect – Reporting
BWTC is committed to protecting children whose health or welfare may be jeopardized through neglect, physical or sexual abuse. Adults who know or have reason to believe that a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused, or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years, are required to immediately (as soon as possible, but in no event longer than 24 hours) report this information to the local welfare agency or other appropriate governmental agency. If the reporter is unsure about the appropriate governmental agency to which the report should be made, contact Hennepin County Child Protective Services at 612.348.3552. If the child is in immediate danger, call 911. In addition, the reporter should notify one of the following as soon as possible: (1) the Artistic Director; (2) the Managing Director; or (3) the President or Vice President of the Board of Directors (http://www.bluewatertheatre.com/about/board-of-directors/).
BWTC strictly prohibits retaliation against any person of any form in response to reports made in good faith under this policy, including retaliation against the reporter, the child with respect to whom the report was made, or anyone involved in a related investigation. Individuals who are found to have engaged in retaliation will be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. If there are any questions or concerns about retaliation please contact the Managing Director (or other appropriate party).
- Disciplinary Action
Interaction with Youth that violates BWTC policies will result in discipline, up to and including termination, as well as reporting of the incident to relevant authorities as required by law.