Unattended and Endangered Child Policy

Unattended and Endangered Child Policy

The Emily Williston Memorial Library is dedicated to providing a welcoming and safe environment for customers of all ages. Sharing this environment with other people requires that everyone follow the Library Behavior and Usage Policy established by the Library Board of Corporators.

Staff members are available to assist children with library materials or services. However, the Library is not equipped—and it is not the Library’s role—to provide long- or short-term child care.

The safety of children left alone in a library building is a serious concern of the library staff. The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the library rests with the parent/caregiver and not with the library personnel. Parents/Guardians are responsible for the behavior and welfare of their children under the age of 18 in the library.

Library employees cannot be responsible for children who are unattended or demonstrating inappropriate behavior. The following guidelines will be followed concerning the care and behavior of young library users under the age of 18.

For the safety and comfort of children, a responsible adult or caregiver should accompany all children under the age of 9 while they are using the Library. While in the Library, parents and caregivers are responsible for monitoring and regulating the behavior of their children.

Children in the library should always be accompanied by a parent/guardian or an assigned caregiver. Children up to age 9 must have a parent/caregiver in the immediate vicinity of and in visual contact with the child. The assigned caregiver must be a responsible person and must carry emergency contact information. An exception would be children attending a library program without a parent/caregiver in the room. However, the parent/caregiver is expected to remain in the library building and immediately join the child at the end of the program.

If a child in this age group is found unattended, library staff will attempt to locate the parent/caregiver in the library and inform him/her of the rules. If the parent/caregiver cannot be found, or if the child is found unattended again, the police may be called for assistance.

If a child in this age group violates the Library Behavior and Usage Policy, the child and the parent/caregiver will be informed of the rules. If inappropriate behavior continues, the family may be asked to leave the library.

We strongly encourage parents of children between the ages of 9 and 12 to be in the building with their child or children. This is because, as a rule, children between the ages of 9 and 12 are too young to be permitted to use the facilities unaccompanied by an adult. Furthermore, if a child in this age group is not able to leave the library and get home without an adult, he/she should not be in the library alone. This is a particular concern in inclement weather and after dark. All children should have the telephone number of someone who can assist them in an emergency.

Teenagers

Teenagers, defined as children between the ages of 13 and 18, are treated as adult users. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their parents and should have an emergency contact available.

Truancy

The library will do its best to follow all applicable state laws in regards to truancy.

Home Schooled Students

In order to use the public library alone during school hours, all children who are ages 8 and up and who are home schooled, will be required to have the permission of a parent or guardian who will certify that the child is home schooled. The child should carry emergency contact information. The parent/guardian will be consulted by staff to confirm the home school status. The school district may also be contacted to confirm home school status.

Library staff members will be guided by this policy in situations, such as

  • An unattended child found frightened or crying in the Library
  • An unattended child is perceived to be endangering him or herself, or that another person in the library poses a perceived threat to the unattended child
  • An unattended child exhibits inappropriate behavior
  • An unattended child has not been met by a responsible caregiver at closing time

After evaluating the situation, Library staff members will attempt to contact the parent or guardian of an unattended child. Children who do not have transportation home at closing time will be asked for telephone numbers of people who can pick them up at the library. Based on the age of the child, if a child is not picked up within 15 minutes of closing, library staff shall have the option to notify the Easthampton Police Department. Staff will stay with children until police or a parent/guardian shall arrive. In the event that the parent or guardian cannot be reached, the child will be placed in the care of the Easthampton Police Department.

Finally, in all cases of suspected abuse, the staff shall consult with the Library Director, and the Library Director shall be responsible for determining whether to consult with authorities regarding the reporting of known or suspected abuse or neglect of children, provided that such knowledge should be brought to the Director’s attention within the context of the library building and its grounds.

 

Approved: January 11, 2010