In a news release, the school announced that it has established a new policy to safeguard the welfare of minors who visit campus or attend events connected with the university, such as athletic or academic camps, competitions and conferences.
UA officials say the policy was developed as a proactive response to national reports of child abuse that occurred at other universities.
"Like other universities around the country, we initiated a review of our existing policies in light of what reportedly occurred at Penn State," said Sharon L. Gaber, the university's provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. "We have adopted and are disseminating this new set of policies and practices to make certain all university employees fully understand their legal and moral responsibility to report such suspected behavior promptly and thoroughly."
The policy describes instances when any member of the campus community should report suspected child maltreatment and also describes the wide number of employees and university volunteers who are mandated by the state to make such reports.
Click here to read or download the new policy.
"Immediate action is essential to protect children present on the University of Arkansas campus or participating in programs that may be connected with the university and is required by law for mandated reporters," the policy states. "A person, acting in good faith, who makes a report of suspected maltreatment, is immune to suit and to civil or criminal liability for making the report."
"Mandated reporters" are described as "any person authorized by a school to exercise administrative or supervisory authority over employees, students or agents of the school," according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Mandated reporters, therefore, include employees of the university who do not have direct contact with children, but who may supervise those that do. That includes even volunteers who exercise an administrative or supervisory authority.
The policy explains the two-step procedure for reporting suspected child maltreatment:
Report the suspected maltreatment to the state's Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964, a number that is staffed 24 hours a day.
Report the suspected maltreatment to the University of Arkansas Police Department (UAPD) by calling 911 in emergency cases, or (479) 575-2222 otherwise. This should occur immediately after the report to the Child Abuse Hotline.
UAPD will promptly coordinate response with state officials and local law enforcement agencies, and the department will also notify the appropriate vice chancellor for any program, location or employee involved in the allegations.
The new policy also emphasizes existing university guidelines for criminal background checks of personnel involved with care or supervision of minors and establishes procedures for reviewing programs, activities and locations, including whether additional training or protocols are needed to prevent child abuse.