Service to children is a very high priority of the Middletown Township Public Library. Children of all ages are warmly welcomed and encouraged to use the Library’s materials, services, and programs. Every effort is made to provide a pleasant and inviting experience. At the same time, the Library is an open, public building, and the well-being and safety of all children are of serious concern. The Library staff cannot assume the responsibility to supervise children in the Library or on library grounds. Leaving a child unattended may result in the violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-14, 15, liability of parent or guardian for negligence.
The following policy has been established to protect children and provide all of our patrons with positive Library experiences.
Parents (or legal guardians) are responsible for the conduct of their minor children under 18 years of age, in the Library, or on Library grounds regardless of whether parents (or legal guardians) are in the company of their children or not.
- For children nine years of age and under, except for participation in specific Library programs, a responsible caregiver (age 17 or older) must always remain within sight of the child.
- Children, 10 to 12 years of age, shall not be left unattended on Library grounds; a caregiver must be present in the building, but not necessarily within sight of the child.
- Children, 12 years old and over, are assumed to be mature enough to use the Library responsibly by themselves.
- However, if unattended 12+ child exhibit fear, anxiety, illness, or disruptive behavior, the caregiver will be called by staff.
- Minor children, aged less than 17 years, may not be left unattended before or after Library hours.
The Library will:
- Library staff will first attempt to reach the caregiver in the Library via our paging system. Staff will remind the caregiver of the policy.
- If the caregiver of a child, 12 years or younger, is not present in the Library, staff will supervise the child at a safe Library location and call the non-emergency Police number.
- If a minor child, up to age 17, is left at the Library after hours, the Library staff will follow these procedures:
- Two senior staff must stay with the child inside the Library building. Note: Staff can ask a child to return to the building if they have gone outside but cannot force them to do so. Personal judgment on the age of the child and conditions should prevail.
- Staff will call the parents/guardian within 5 minutes of the Library closing. Staff will call the parents/guardians for up to 15 minutes.
- If parents/guardians cannot be reached or cannot arrive until 15 minutes past closing, staff will call the Police non-emergency number, and two staff members are to remain with the child until the Police have arrived.
- The director or designee will be notified of the situation if a child is left unattended after closing.
- Staff will file an incident report with the administration when a child 12 and under is left unattended in the Library with no caregiver, or a child 12 and over needs to have a parent or guardian contacted due to distress, or a minor is left alone at the time of the Library closing.