If you’re a kid in Beaverton, Oregon — the actual Niketown — you may wonder why your mom never says, “Go to the library.”
Maybe it’s because mom has something else to do today other than stare at you. Here is the Beaverton Library’s Rule #2:
- …[T]he adult/caregiver must supervise the child during the entire library visit by keeping them within their line of sight. If a child under 10 years of age is unattended and an adult/responsible caregiver cannot be located within 5 minutes, library staff will call the Beaverton Police Department.
I guess if kids want to read, they’ve got their phones.
So a local mom wrote to me:
A program my son used to go to as dropoff now requires a parent to be with him. And definitely, in our town, the library is mostly for the preschool set. Don’t they realize that after a certain point, not only do we not need to supervise their every activity but maybe we don’t even want to? Why should I give up two hours on a Saturday, sitting in the library waiting, so my son can use a 3D printing program? Isn’t it okay for us to have separate interests?
Apparently not. Here is the entire policy. Note the fact that, as is common, a rule that constricts a child’s freedom, as well as parents’ ability to decide for themselves what age their kids are capable of doing something in public, is compromised for safety concerns. This is how we get parents arrested for letting their kids play outside, or wait a few minutes in the car. It’s the bulletproof excuse that hijacks freedom.
BEAVERTON CITY LIBRARY
SAFE CHILD POLICY
Adopted by the Library Advisory Board, January 2006
Updated October 2015
Children of all ages are welcome in the library.
Doesn’t sound that way. I went to the library by myself at age 9.
However, libraries are public buildings where the well-being of children left alone is a serious concern. The following policy has been established in order to create an environment of safety and to help keep our young patrons safe:
- It is the responsibility of the accompanying adult/caregiver to ensure a child’s appropriate behavior and adherence to the Rules for Use of the Beaverton City Library
- Children under 10 years of age must be accompanied by an adult/caregiver at all times.* This means the adult/caregiver must supervise the child during the entire library visit by keeping them within their line of sight. If a child under 10 years of age is unattended and an adult/responsible caregiver cannot be located within 5 minutes, library staff will call the Beaverton Police Department.
- When Library events require children to attend on their own, children shall be brought to the room immediately prior to the program and immediately met outside the room at the program’s conclusion.
- Library staff is not responsible for the supervision of children in any area of the library at any time except during library programs where parents/caregivers do not attend.
- The Beaverton Police Department will be called for unattended minors at the time of Library closure.
And they added these, just to make it clear:
*The Oregon Revised Statutes:
163.545 Child neglect in the second degree.
(1) A person having custody or control of a child under 10 years of age commits the crime of child neglect in the second degree if, with criminal negligence, the person leaves the child unattended in or at any place for such period of time as may be likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child.
(2) Child neglect in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor
The library seems to interpret kids left alone at the library as child endangerment. That sounds like a scary library!
I get that some children can be ill-behaved. But why punish ALL children who want to come to the library by making access taboo till double digits? Teach, punish or ban the kids who can’t control themselves, and let the other kids come in and, you know, read. As someone in your town once said: Just do it.