Unattended children in the public library fall in the category of problem patrons. Even the best behaved young child should not be left in the library without a parent nearby. In libraries of more than one room a child should not be left unsupervised in the children's section while the parent goes off to another area.
In a library, as in any public place, an unattended child is vulnerable to accidental injury, theft of the child's own property (backpack, lunch money, etc.), fights and, in the worst-case scenario, sexual predators or kidnapping.
Public libraries have every right to insist that a responsible adult accompany each child in the building. Unfortunately, there will be times when children are left unattended. During those times, you will want to keep four guidelines in mind:
protect the children from injury and harm from another person
protect their right to use the library
prevent them from interfering with other people's use of the library
involve the outside world: parents, teachers, child protection agencies, police, and other organizations which care about the welfare of children.
Your library should have policies addressing unattended children in the library and guidelines for handling these situations. Also be sure that your basic library rules apply to children and adults equally.
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