Protecting Youth in Virtual Settings

It is important that everyone within our Cal Poly community feel welcomed, safe, and respected while either leading course instruction or conducting business on behalf of the University or any of our Auxiliary Organization units. These guidelines embody the spirit of Cal Poly and are intended to help everyone feel comfortable and safe. As a Cal Poly staff or faculty member, we ask you to agree to follow this code of conduct which is rooted in our core values.

  • Virtual Platform Guidelines
    • Parents or legal guardians must complete the program permission form and the Release of Liability, Promise Not to Sue, Assumption of Risk and Agreement to Pay Claims before their minor children may participate in any online program.
    • Parents must register their minor for the program (no public programs).
    • Avoid one-on-one virtual contact with a minor. Programs must arrange to have at least two adults online at all times, including one identified as the designated host/monitor of the session. This includes not leaving minors unattended in “break-out” rooms, “hang-out” rooms or main rooms.
    • The host must send the meeting link, call in number, and meeting ID to registered participants and their parents or guardians. Only program staff, participants, and their parents or guardians should receive the link.
    • The host controls all muting, video functions, chat, etc., so that instructors can focus on their presentations. Hosts should also handle back-end technology troubleshooting (e.g., assisting users who cannot log on) and communication with participants before and during the workshop.
    • Consider starting the meeting in waiting room if both adult hosts are not logged on.
    • Zoom (or other platform) must automatically advise participants that this will be recorded or recording capability must be disabled.
    • The virtual background function should be disabled.
    • The private chat function must be disabled.
    • Ensure participants are properly identified – don't allow a cell phone number without a name to join.
    • The host will place students in breakout rooms (if they are being used) and visit these rooms throughout the session for supervision.
    • The host is the first line of defense against inappropriate behavior and must act quickly to cut off participants who violate expectations. Any inappropriate behavior should be reported immediately to your supervisor and documented.
    • Train your teams appropriately on how to use Zoom and other platforms – best to document procedures and also document the reporting and escalation process should an inappropriate activity take place.
    • Keep your programs consistent with check-in and check-out times very concrete to avoid inappropriate interactions.
    • Minors may not engage in activities involving hazardous materials (chemical, biological, radiation) or work with mechanical tools at home during an online program. For questions about whether a proposed activity can be done safely, please contact
    • If virtual programming involves physical activity, i.e., yoga, etc., the following disclaimer must automatically appear on the sign-in screen:
      “Participation in this activity is strictly voluntary and you are participating at your sole risk. On-site assistance, aid, and direction is not, and will not be, available. You should consult your physician or other healthcare provider before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately and call 911 if needed. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read or heard on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.”
  • Guidelines for Electronic Communications
    • Private direct messaging, texting, chatting, or personal emails between a minor and a program staff member is not permitted. However, if you do need to contact a minor for programmatic reasons, you must copy the participant’s parent or legal guardian on all communications. (Parents/guardians must provide an email address and mobile phone number on the permission form.) Group messages and posts related to programming are acceptable and must be viewable by all participants.
    • Contact with minor participants anytime outside of regularly scheduled programming is not permitted.
  • Maintaining Professionalism
    • Keep conversations professional and focused on programmatic and educational purposes.
    • While encouragement and support are important, boundaries must be maintained for the safety of both adults and the minor.
    • Comply with the Youth Program Personnel Code of Conduct, even in virtual settings.
    • Wear, Where and Who:
      • Wear: Please look presentable and professional. Dress in a way that is modest, clean and avoids unnecessary distraction.
      • Where: Select an appropriate location from which to host your program. Be aware of items viewable in your background. Avoid hosting programs from your bedroom.
      • Who: Consider who is around you while hosting a program, and ensure, to the best of your ability, such individuals will not cause a distraction or partake in any inappropriate behavior.
  • Involving Parents
    • Parents/guardians must be provided with access information to all virtual meetings and programs.
    • Encourage parents/guardians to be aware of their child’s online activities.
    • Communicate with parents/guardians if you intend to send a resource box (camp in a box), including any safety considerations.
    • Ensure that parents/guardians are provided with clear instructions for reporting any concerns.
  • Responding to Concerns
    • If you see something, or even suspect something, report immediately. You are a Mandated Reporter and required to report suspected abuse or neglect. Report other types of concerns either to your supervisor or through the YPP Reporting -- need link webpage.
    • Procedures for Reporting Suspected Abuse or Neglect must be provided to all staff.
    • Let parents know how to report concerns on the YPP webpage. Share reporting protocols with parents.
  • Using Outside Resources

    Please carefully consider any outside resources. When connecting parents and/or guardians to these outside resources, include language such as the following:

    “Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has no control over the content offered by third party websites. Parents and guardians should monitor the online activities of their children to ensure the content is age appropriate and to ensure the safety of their children”
  • Accommodation and Accessibility

    The same ADA guidelines should be followed when providing virtual programming as followed in physical classrooms or meetings. One of the best ways to ensure you are planning an inclusive event is to include the following DPRC-endorsed Event Access Statement on all websites, event announcements, and meeting notices:

    “[Name of your program/program sponsoring event] welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. If you would like reasonable accommodations for this event, please contact [program director at (xxx) xxx-xxxx or [insert your email address]] as soon as possible so your request may be reviewed.”

    As the event authority, your organization or department is responsible for accepting and processing accommodation requests, however, the DRC is here to consult with you regarding best practices for implementation. Please contact the DRC at (805) 756-1395 or if you have any further questions. Additional information designed to help you make your event ADA-accessible can be found at Cal Poly Accessible Event Planning Guide.


Cyberbullying Awareness

Frequency of Cyberbullying

There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:

  • The 2022 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that, among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 21.6% were bullied online or by text.
  • The 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that an estimated 15.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Warning Signs of Cyberbullying

Many of the warning signs that cyberbullying is occurring happen around a child’s use of their device. Some of the warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying are:

  • Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
  • A child exhibits emotional responses (sadness, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
  • A child hides their screen or device when others are near and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
  • Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
  • A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
  • A child becomes withdrawn or depressed or loses interest in people and activities.

What to Do When Cyberbullying Happens

If you notice warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying, take steps to investigate that child’s digital behavior. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying, and adults should take the same approach to address it: support the child being bullied, address the bullying behavior of a participant, and show children that cyberbullying is taken seriously. Because cyberbullying happens online, responding to it requires different approaches. Use the link below to learn more about steps you can take.

Learn More

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