Safe Child- Youth Guidelines-Unattended Children Policy

Safe Child/Youth Guidelines

Mecklenburg County Public Library

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Mecklenburg County Public Library and its branches welcome children and youth of all ages. However, it is not within the scope of the library to provide childcare or babysitting. 

Supervision of all library users is provided only to the degree of enforcing the library’s Code of User Conduct in order to protect the rights of everyone to enjoy an orderly environment.  Library staff has many duties to perform in order to serve all patrons.  They cannot monitor the whereabouts of each patron—including children.  Library staff cannot assume responsibility for the care and safety of children in the library, other than to enforce the library’s policies and rules.  Staff members do not take over parental responsibilities for children who visit the library.  We caution:  A child could be tempted to leave with a stranger; a child could become ill or get lost.  It is for the safety of each child that the library has created Safe Child/Youth Guidelines.

Library Administration is very concerned about several scenarios, which present challenges to library staff members.  These include parents/guardians, who leave their children/youth unsupervised at the library. According to the library’s Code of User Conduct, this can be viewed as “disrupting” library staff, particularly when children/youth are left unsupervised for periods of time.  In extreme cases, it can be viewed as “loitering”. Similarly, when a child/youth is left at the library with food and expected to eat his/her lunch on library property, this can be interpreted as a violation of the Code of User’s Conduct’s item, which cautions against  “bringing in items” that have “no usefulness in the library”. Children can also display disruptive behavior when a parent/guardian is using a public computer, a personal laptop, or personal mobile device in the library.  We ask that parents/guardians actively supervise their children.  We ask that when a child’s behavior causes a disturbance, the parent/guardian prioritizes the act of coping with his/her child’s behavior, even if that means the parent/guardian must forego computer use in order to contribute to quieting

Children under age 12:  Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or adult age 18 or older who acknowledges responsibility for and supervision of the child during his/her entire stay in the library.  This adult is responsible for actively supervising the child’s behavior while in the building.

Unattended children under age 12:  If the child’s parent/guardian cannot be reached by phone, staff will notify the police of an unattended child at the library. 

Disruptive children under age 12:  Staff will ask the child to behave and will inform the supervising adult that the child is disturbing others.  If poor behavior continues and the supervising adult cannot control the child, the staff member in charge will ask the child and his/her supervising adult to leave for the day.

Disruptive youth ages 12 and up:  Staff will ask the youth to behave.  If poor behavior continues, the youth will be asked to leave the building.  Failure of the youth to leave will necessitate staff member in charge to phone the

Revoking library privileges:  Children/youth whose conduct is disruptive to library operations and others’ use of the library may have the privilege of using the library restricted or denied.  Disruptive youth will be asked to leave the library for the day.  Further failure to comply with this policy will be grounds for denial of library privileges for longer periods of time.  The police will be called when a youth’s behavior is hostile or threatening or if he/she refuses to leave the library after being asked to do so.

Minors (under age 18) at the library at closing:  Staff will alert library users about 15 minutes before closing time.  They may use the library’s telephone if necessary to call someone; no long distance phone calls are allowed on the library’s phone unless the circumstances are extremely urgent.  If there are minors (under age 18) at the library at closing who have no transportation or who are waiting for their parent/guardian/responsible adult to pick them up, staff will try to contact the parent/guardian/responsible adult by telephone.  If a parent/guardian/responsible adult cannot be reached by phone or if this parent/guardian/responsible adult fails to appear at the library in a timely manner, staff will notify the police of an unattended youth at the library.  When a police officer arrives, library staff will turn the youth over to the police, and library staff will subsequently leave the premises. Library staff will not provide transportation to library patrons.  Library staff will not be responsible for minors nor stay overtime (unless waiting for police presence).  Unattended minors at the library at closing should be given a copy of the library’s Safe Child/Youth Guidelines.  If staff interacts with a parent/guardian/responsible adult in person, staff should give a copy of the Safe Child/Youth Guidelines to him/her.  If a minor is left unattended on more than one occasion, staff will attempt to mail a copy of the Safe Child/Youth Policy to the parent/guardian along with a letter, explaining that any future incident at closing will precipitate the police automatically being notified. 

Guidelines created July 2010 for Clarksville Area Public Library;  

Guidelines revised September 2015 for R. T. Arnold Library & accepted by Mecklenburg County Public Library Trustees for use at all locations on September 16, 2015.


Unattended Children Policy

The library feels that service to children and young people is one of its most important responsibilities and makes every effort to encourage them to use its materials and facilities. However, the library doesn't have adequate staff to supervise unattended children left in the library for extended periods of time. Unattended children may disturb other library users and staff and their safety cannot be guaranteed.

The library requests that parents not leave their children unattended in the library for extended periods of time. We reserve the right to deny admittance to children who have previously been left unattended. We also reserve the right to require that disruptive unattended children and young people leave the library. Parents of disruptive young children will be contacted and requested to pick their child up. In extreme cases where parents or guardians can't be contacted to retrieve young children,other officials, such as the police may be contacted. This policy is intended to help protect the rights of all citizens wishing to use our facilities and to better insure the safety of our younger library users.

Policy adopted August 17, 1988 for Southside Regional Library System—

the predecessor of Mecklenburg County Public Library System

Policy adopted by the founding Board of Trustees of Mecklenburg County

Public Library at its special, organizational meeting on May 13, 2015.