A circus training school has been accused of a total of 127 different sexual and physical abuse offenses against children. The New York Metropolitan Opera’s longtime conductor stepped down after having been accused of sexually abusing teens decades ago while he was the director of a Michigan school of music’s summer program.
Arts organizations around the world offer programming for young people that provide benefits to both the participants and the providers. For the children, engagement in performing arts and fine art programs promotes creativity and cultivates self-expression. It can inspire and nurture burgeoning talent and provide a new way of viewing the world, while the organization can benefit from the infusion of enthusiasm and energy – as well as the financial boost. But with all of the rewards provided by intergenerational engagement, there are also risks. Young people can be vulnerable to the same types of injuries that adults are, but the program offering them access has a higher degree of responsibility for their welfare. Equally concerning is the risk of abuse, molestation and sexual harassment. As a result, organizations need to be proactive in the assessment of their risk, and in managing it. This means having both a risk management program in place and ensuring that your insurance policy is comprehensive.
Having a risk management program in place is an explicit recognition that young people are not considered capable of reasoning like an adult, and that the elements of risk that they bring are recognized by your organization. These risks can be from peer-on-peer interactions, student/employee interactions, premises exposure and more. In the face of litigation, having policies in place is a demonstration that you care and worked to prevent harm from taking place. Your risk management program not only protects your reputation, but also works to prevent the types of losses that can result in rate increases or non-renewal of insurance policies, and should include:
- Concrete steps for preventing abuse, molestation and sexual harassment that are clearly communicated to all.
- Background checks on all staff, volunteers and contractors involved with youth participants
- Orientation training regarding appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, recognizing signs of abuse, and what to do if abuse or molestation is suspected or reported
- Restrictions against one-on-one alone time between adults and children
- Encouraging unannounced parent visitation and observation
- Creation of a specific protocol for review and investigation of allegations of abuse, molestation or harassment
Beyond policies, it is also essential that your insurance policy specifically addresses the unique liabilities involving children. Coverage to be considered includes:
- Ensuring that coverage extends to activities both on premise and to those that extend beyond your location or normal operating hours
- Transportation insurance where applicable
- Liability coverage for directors and officers
- Molestation coverage
- Accident/injury coverage
La Playa insurance specializes in providing comprehensive insurance coverage for the arts. Our understanding of the needs of this sector means you can have full confidence that you will be protected against the unique risks presented in your environment.