I am a parent of three children. Prior to that I worked as a Child Development Specialist for many years. I know and understand what my children are capable of doing and when they require supervision. A stranger has no idea that my children are developmentally above age level and emotionally mature enough to handle themselves in a public library. They are familiar with the library and understand the parameters of safe perusal of items throughout the library. My children are capable of accessing the Internet on library computers and have been doing so for the last two years with no difficulties. They know my rules and know what to do if approached by someone. Today I was called to the security office and "advised" of library "rules" in the form of a bookmark presented to me by a guard. It goes without saying that I am livid that my constitutional rights as a parent have been violated. What right does the library have to tell me my children are required to have me as their shadow if they wish to investigate a part of the library a few feet away from me? This is a small library, by the way. If one of them screamed or were engaging in disruptive behaviors, I would know! How dare a stranger inform me of how I should parent my children! The library can let me know if my children are being disruptive, and I will take care of that immediately. However, quiet, engaged children who are displaying appropriate behaviors only need to say, "my mother is in the library" if there is a concern. The library's "code of conduct" simply states, "The library is not responsible for children under the age of 11 who are left unattended on Library property. Misconduct or misuse of library property on the part of juveniles will be reported to their parents." Nowhere does this policy state the parent must shadow the child! So the security guard took it upon himself to make a judgement about my children, failed to follow the stated library policy code, and interpreted the code as he saw fit. Not acceptable in my book. You can inform me of the policy regarding the library not being responsible for my child, but you cannot tell me that my child cannot explore the library when I know he is perfectly capable of handling himself. Furthermore, my children behave well and know not to be loud in the library. I have seen individuals who are far more disruptive due to special circumstances...which I understand. I have also worked with survivors of Traumatic Brain Injuries and individuals with other special needs, so I understand and accept that this will happen. So if you can make accommodations based on these individuals developmental levels versus chronological age, then I expect that same consideration for my children! Do not make generalizations based on a few incidents. Do not group my children into a category in which they do not belong! I will be addressing my concerns to the Pikes Peak Library Board of Trustees. I encourage all parents to take charge and speak up for their rights as a parent to determine their children's abilities and level of independence. We have scientific proof and studies that back us up. Children develop and comprehend nuances of social behaviors at varying rates. Do not allow chronological age to be a determining factor!
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