SAFE CHILD POLICY
The staff of the Bonne Terre Memorial Library strives to create a warm and inviting environment for children in order to encourage a love of books, reading and learning. The safety and well-being of children at the library is a matter of serious concern. Parents must be aware that responsibility for children using the library rests at all times with the parent(s) or assigned caregiver(s) and NOT the library staff. Parents/caregivers may not leave children under the age of 12 unattended in the library.
Parents should familiarize themselves with library hours, which are posted within the library, on the sign in front of the library and on the library website. Parents should not leave children at the library before opening or after closing.
Children old enough to be alone in the library should know how to contact a parent or caregiver in case of emergency.
CHILD LEFT UNATTENDED DURING LIBRARY HOURS
If it is determined that a child is vulnerable, lost or left unattended (see definition below), a staff member will try to identify and locate the parent/guardian or responsible adult.
1. Check each section or department of the library. If the child is frightened or crying, staff member should, of course, try to comfort and reassure.
2. If the parent/guardian is not found in the building, a staff member should stay with the child until someone can be located through searching the database, phone book, town directory, etc.
3. When the parent/guardian is located, explain the library policy on unattended children.
4. If the parent/guardian cannot be located or if the library is closing, the staff member will call the police.
5. Complete an Incident Report.
6. Staff members should not take a child out of the building.
Unattended child: a young person under age 12 using public library resources and facilities unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
Vulnerable Child: An unattended child or adolescent whose safety or well-being would be endangered if she/he were sent out of the building. Examples of vulnerability include the child being too young to be on his or her own, the child being sent into an unsafe area, or the child being left alone in the dark outside the library after business hours.
UNATTENDED CHILD AFTER LIBRARY HOURS
If a child is alone at closing time and appears to be vulnerable:
1. A staff member should stay with the child until a parent/guardian can be located through searching the database, phone book, town director, etc. If staff cannot reach parent/guardian on the first attempt, the person in charge will call the police to assume responsibility for the child.
2. Two staff members will remain with the child inside the library entrance until the parent/guardian or police arrive.
3. Library policy will be explained and a copy of the written policy will be given to parent/guardian. If there is an ongoing problem with a family, police department or state department of social services intervention may be necessary
4. All incidents of a child being left vulnerable should be recorded on an incident form.
CHILD REPORTED MISSING OR LOST
If a parent/guardian reports a child missing, staff will follow this procedure
1. Obtain name, age, and description of the child. Ask parent/guardian how extensively they have searched. Check outside the library immediately.
2. Describe the child to and request assistance from library other staff members.
3. Check the elevator, plus all floors, rooms, and areas of the library.
4. Ask parent/guardian for permission to call police if unable to locate the child. If parent/guardian is unavailable, contact police.
5. Complete incident report.
UNACCOMPANIED ADULT IN CHILDREN'S DEPARTMENT
For the safety of children in the library, adults unaccompanied by children are asked to remain in the adult sections of the library unless they are actively using the materials or services in the children's department.